TigerWatch falls short of 25-member goal

The organization aims to reduce crime on campus.

TigerWatch, a student organization with a goal to reduce the feeling of danger among the campus community at night, plans to launch this fall on campus.

“TigerWatch is an active campus watch program that serves three main objectives –- be a third party presence on campus at night, accompany requesting students who feel unsafe to their dorm, car or Greek house and provide outreach and education to students,” TigerWatch Superintendent Josh Travis said.

But TigerWatch’s number of officers is significantly lower than the group had expected.

Travis had hoped that the club would launch with a force of about 25 officers, but currently, the membership is made up of nine students.

With the delay, MU officials still are not sure if the club will take off.

The MU Police Department is aware of TigerWatch’s existence but has mostly referred the club to the Center for Student Affairs for assistance, said MUPD Chief Jack Watring.

“This is sort of Josh’s big idea,” Cathy Scroggs, vice chancellor for Student Affairs, said. “I’m not really sure if it has taken off –- if it’s a program that the students think they want.”

Student Affairs has seen TigerWatch’s plans for the program but does not fund it. The program was welcomed into the Missouri Students Association at the end of last semester.

In addition to the nine members, four students are still undergoing the recruitment process, which began a few months before the end of the last school year. The eight-page application includes a minimum GPA, background check and physical requirement of running from Mark Twain residence hall to the bookstore, TigerWatch officer Sagar Hemani said.

“We haven’t really gotten our word out as much as we had hoped to,” Hemani said. The group leaders had hoped to spread the word of the new organization during freshman orientation but plans fell through. Hemani still hopes they will have opportunities to spread the word.

“It’d be a little difficult to pull out this program full throttle without the number we had hoped for,” Hemani said. “Hopefully soon we’ll have our minimum number of 25.”

While crime is not a major issue on campus, TigerWatch recognizes that there is still a need to reduce crime.

“Overall the crime rate is not terrible but in the same respect there are several incidents that happen every year,” Assistant Superintendant of TigerWatch Claire Kates said.

Since the beginning of 2010, there has been one forcible rape, six aggravated assault crimes and seven burglaries on campus, stated the Missouri Uniform Crime Report for MU. A total of 163 crimes have taken place on campus throughout 2010.

TigerWatch officers are taught not to engage in any type of assault situation but rather to quickly call a trained MUPD officer to the scene.

“TigerWatch officers will be carrying around radios that are on the same frequency as MUPD,” officer Michael Crawford said. “Since they are on the same frequency, it’s much faster for them to get on the radio so the dispatcher can already send someone over to the situation.”

The student group claims that their program is much more efficient than if a student had to dial 911 on their own cell phone for help.

“I found that you save 5-8 minutes of response time that would be wasted to talking to Boone County police dispatch who would then send you to MUPD dispatch who would then send an officer to the scene,” Travis said.

While the program has barely started, Travis already has plans for the future of the program.

“We’re trying to procure the Missouri Student Association golf cart,” he said. “We will pick students up and take them back to their dorm, car or Greek house. We’re also going to explore staking out a few different officers -- maybe an officer at the student union or at the library so if you’re studying at the library and get done at 2 a.m. but don’t feel safe walking home, then you can tap a TigerWatch officer.”

Throughout the fall semester, TigerWatch anticipates that the program will run Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.

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