Jimmy Jones, in a stern letter to the Trinity College community this afternoon, says the school and the city must move quickly to improve campus safety in the aftermath of a brutal attack on a student early Sunday morning:
I want to assure you in no uncertain terms that the safety and security of our community and its members are a critical priority. In the past few years, we have made considerable efforts to increase Campus Safety staff, install new and improved campus lighting, and expand monitoring cameras. I am determined to aggressively continue and increase such safety installations. However, even more substantial action must be taken immediately, commensurate with the seriousness of concerns about Trinity's safety environment. I will report further on the progress of these initiatives on several occasions in the next weeks and months of this semester.
From: Jones, James F. Sent: Tuesday, March 06, 2012 2:16 PM Subject: Important Message to the Trinity College Community Importance: High
March 6, 2012
Dear Members of the Trinity College Community,
I am writing to inform you of a very unfortunate and unwarranted assault that took place near the Trinity campus on early Sunday morning. As you may know already, a Trinity student was assaulted and seriously injured between 2:30 and 3:00 a.m. on Sunday. Two Trinity students were walking on Allen Place when a car pulled up to them and an estimated six people got out of the car and came after them. One of the Trinity students was able to escape, but the other student was beaten severely. A woman, who is not a member of the Trinity community and who was driving by, saw the attack, stopped, flashed her lights, and blew her horn, causing the assailants to flee. Hartford Police and emergency vehicles responded, along with Campus Safety. Hartford Police have assigned the case to its Major Crimes Division, an indication that they are taking this assault very seriously. We do not know yet what the motive was for the attack, but we believe it may have been robbery.
The student who was attacked underwent facial surgery at Hartford Hospital, where doctors repaired his jaw, which was broken in two places. Fortunately, there was no orbital damage, no concussion, and no signs of impact on his cognitive skills. He was alert when I visited him yesterday morning and was being released to the care of his mother when Dean of Students Fred Alford visited with him and his mother last night. Our hearts and our prayers go out to him, his family, his St. Anthony's Hall brothers, and other campus friends. I am deeply saddened by the terrible ordeal being faced by this student and his loved ones.
This senseless and brutal attack instills in all of us a fear and anger and a recognition that the College must act immediately to improve the safety of our students through both present and long-term actions. I want to assure you that I, as president, have no higher priority than this. I have heard from many students, parents, and alumni, and I share their outrage and concern about this malicious attack. There have been multiple and very forthright discussions with Hartford's mayor, Pedro Segarra, and Hartford's chief of police, James Rovella, urging them to increase police patrol frequency and vigilance around the Trinity campus. They have assured us of heightened surveillance by Hartford police, in addition to their vigorous pursuit of the perpetrators of this assault. Indeed the student's family is considering a reward for the apprehension of those who inflicted this assault, and Trinity has offered to partner in that financial award. The College is taking the following steps:
In addition to the five more Campus Safety officers we have just hired, we will hire 10 new contracted law enforcement professionals to provide immediate vigilance. These staff will be spread out between 7:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. and will patrol key areas on foot, including Allen Place, Summit Street, Crescent Street and internal campus locations. This means that between these hours, we will have 15-16 officers on patrol, compared to six at this time last year.
We have recently received a report at the conclusion of an audit by a panel of external campus safety professionals of Trinity's present Campus Safety program. While that audit makes several actionable suggestions on how we can improve that program, its lead recommendation is that Trinity recruit a senior professional who will serve as a member of the Senior Staff, attend meetings with the executive officers of the College, and play a strategic management role in maintaining a safe campus. A search for that leader will commence immediately.
We have sent a request for proposal (RFP) to consultants who have the expertise to advise us about crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED), which is a comprehensive approach that involves barriers, lighting, cameras, landscaping, and monitoring access. We are expediting this selection process and plan to begin working with the identified firm by next week. We expect the resulting plan to provide a comprehensive approach to ensuring safety and managing access to the campus, particularly in the evening and early morning hours.
I also want to acknowledge that we can improve the content and style of communications from Campus Safety. We have learned greatly from our imperfect communication on Sunday.
I have asked Dean Alford and Allison Read, the College's Chaplain, to reach out immediately to campus leaders in the Student Government Association, Greek-letter houses, and throughout the campus, to provide early counsel on plans and ideas that will contribute to enhanced campus safety. Further, I have called a campus safety forum for all members of the community to hear of our plans, receive advice on improving their own safety, and voice their concerns. That will occur on Thursday, March 8, at 12:15 p.m. in the Washington Room. Joining us will be Paul Raether, Chair of the Board of Trustees, and Hartford's Police Chief. Separate campus reminders will be sent on Tuesday, Wednesday, and again on Thursday.
We thank all of you who have called and written with your suggestions and concerns. We are doing our best to respond but ask you to understand that our first priority has to be putting in place the initiatives cited above.
The Board of Trustees will meet as regularly scheduled on March 9 and 10, and the safety of the campus will be its most important topic. The Board will invite student representatives to offer their critical perspectives to the Trustees. Given the seriousness of this situation, we are taking significant steps now to address the protection of our campus community with our own resources, even as we seek increased vigilance from the Hartford Police Department about the threat of crime in areas contiguous to the campus. With assistance from Dean Alford and Chaplain Read, we will form a student safety task force to keep students informed of our new plans and actions, improve direct communications with Campus Safety, and hear their ideas and concerns. I want to assure you in no uncertain terms that the safety and security of our community and its members are a critical priority. In the past few years, we have made considerable efforts to increase Campus Safety staff, install new and improved campus lighting, and expand monitoring cameras. I am determined to aggressively continue and increase such safety installations. However, even more substantial action must be taken immediately, commensurate with the seriousness of concerns about Trinity's safety environment. I will report further on the progress of these initiatives on several occasions in the next weeks and months of this semester.
Sincerely, James F. Jones, Jr. President and Trinity College
Professor in the Humanities