UB Focuses on Student Safety in the Heights Neighborhood
February 28, 2013
This Q&A will answer many of the questions you may have
about safety in the Heights District, near UB’s South Campus,
and how UB is working with students, residents and community
leaders to address issues in the neighborhood. If you have other
questions about university and City of Buffalo efforts to maintain
safety in the Heights or on UB campuses, please feel free to
contact us by email or call UB’s Community Relations Office
at (716) 829-3099.
How safe is the Heights District neighborhood?
The Heights neighborhood, which borders UB’s South Campus
in Buffalo, is home to many responsible families, many of whom are
UB employees, as well as students who rent apartments in the
neighborhood. Like most urban communities that border a college
campus, this neighborhood is not immune to crime and safety issues,
but it is generally a safe place to live. Safety and crime in the
neighborhood has been proactively addressed in a number of ways
over the last few years by UB, the City of Buffalo and neighborhood
residents. The joint police patrols begun by UB’s University
Police and the Buffalo Police Department continue to add to police
presence in the neighborhood (http://www.buffalo.edu/news/10396).
Other initiatives include:
- A memorandum of understanding between UB and the Buffalo Police
Department that allows BPD lieutenants to contact UB Police and
have them respond to low priority calls regarding parties, etc.,
that allow BPD to respond to higher priority calls.
- The new Buffalo Police Department burglary detail that provides
another deterrent to neighborhood crime.
- New dedicated patrol cars (in addition to burglary detail) to
patrol the South Campus neighborhoods.
- Halloween Patrol: BPD increases patrols for increased
visibility and response time, if necessary, at a time when many
students are out and about in the South Campus neighborhood.
- Assignment of two Community Police Officers, which allows
officers to become more familiar within the neighborhoods.
Some of the crime in the Heights neighborhood is related to the
abuse of alcohol among young people who reside in or visit it. Some
of this behavior leads to so-called nuisance crimes, such as
vandalism. More serious incidents include acts of violence, though
they are rare. UB takes very seriously any criminal activity
perpetrated against or by students, which is why UB and its
community partners continue to take steps to make this neighborhood
safer. UB Student Wide Judiciary and Judicial Affairs have
developed a low-tolerance policy for students involved in
Collaboration among the university, the City of Buffalo and the
community is essential to these efforts. “The safety of our
students, both on and off campus, is certainly a major concern for
the University Police,” says Gerald W. Schoenle Jr., chief of
University Police. “The university has made numerous security
enhancements on and near our South Campus and North Campus. We will
continue to work with our law enforcement partners, particularly
the Amherst and Buffalo Police, to assist in addressing concerns
both on and off campus.”
How safe is the University at Buffalo overall?
UB’s annual on-campus crime statistics are consistently
very low and, in fact, our crime rate is significantly down from 10
years ago. UB’s University Police department is
state-accredited and is one of the best campus police departments
in the state. University Police consists of 61 highly trained
professionals who provide around-the-clock service to the
Over the past five years, UB has invested more than $5 million
in security enhancements on its campuses, including new lighting,
security cameras and emergency Blue Light phones. The
university also has purchased security cameras in the Heights and
added joint patrols of Main Street with the Buffalo Police
What specifically are UB and its community partners doing to address safety and crime in the Heights?
UB and the City of Buffalo have launched several new
collaborative initiatives to continue improving safety, deter crime
and enhance quality of life in the Heights.
Each fall semester, the Buffalo Police Department and University
Police conduct joint patrols along Main Street in Buffalo on
Thursday through Saturday nights when there are many students and
members of the community out and about. In addition, UB has
purchased five security cameras for the City of Buffalo installed
on street corners in the neighborhood.
The present camera locations include traffic-signals or
street-light poles on the corners of Winspear Avenue and Parkridge
Street, Main and Custer streets, Main Street and Englewood Avenue,
Main Street and LaSalle Avenue, and Englewood Avenue and Eley
Place. Each new camera provides video streaming to the Buffalo
Police Department camera room located at 74 Franklin St.
For the joint University Police and Buffalo Police patrols
occurring in the fall and spring, UB purchased Segway Personal
Transporters and bicycles for use by Buffalo and UB police
officers. Bike and Segway patrols permit officers to be highly
visible and are effective in patrolling defined areas with large
groups of people. UB provides specialized bike patrol training to
As part of these collaborative efforts, the Buffalo Police
Department has increased the presence of daily patrols in the
neighborhood and will focus its Mobile Response Unit on pockets of
criminal activity in the neighborhood. The City of Buffalo has been
more aggressive on housing code enforcement in the neighborhood.
This will improve the safety and upkeep of properties in the
How is UB raising awareness about the need for personal safety and proper behavior in the Heights and on campus?
UB continues to reach out to students and residents with
information and guidance on how to safeguard their personal safety
For example, the university also has implemented these new
safety programs and initiatives:
- UB created the office of Off-Campus Student Services to monitor
safety issues and oversee programs that promote student safety in
the Heights and other off-campus neighborhoods.
- The university provides regular living-off-campus student
orientation programs for all students. For international students,
UB’s office of International Student and Scholar Services
provides a Safety Tips e-newsletter, which is sent to incoming
international students at least one month before they arrive in
Buffalo. The office also offers the workshop on “Protecting
Yourself: Scams, Fires and Landlords,” which is part of
International Student Orientation and the Safety Tips
- Every fall UB distributes nearly 3,000 safety and “how to
be good a neighbor” kits to students and residents in the
neighborhood. This kit contains information about how
students can protect themselves and their property, and why it is
important for students to respect their neighbors by not hosting
- The university instituted Operation Student Safety, weekly,
street-targeted inspections of homes within the South Campus
neighborhoods to allow UB staff and City of Buffalo building
inspectors to inspect homes (electrical, smoke detectors, etc.) and
issue violation citations requiring owners to make repairs within
- An annual Block Party and Safety Fair that offers UB students
and residents of the Heights neighborhood safety programming and a
chance to get to know one another and learn about block clubs,
community and civic groups, local businesses and university
How is UB continuing to improve student safety on its South Campus?
UB invested more than $5 million on the South Campus in new
exterior lighting, as well as 76 new security cameras and 19 new
emergency blue-light systems monitored by University Police.
Similar security systems also have been installed on UB’s
In addition, UB Police have expanded their presence on the
South Campus during weekends and other peak periods. A UB Alert
text message notification system is designed to make students more
aware of reported criminal activity off- and on-campus, and how to
avoid it. Information is also posted on the “My UB”
website when necessary and useful.
UB’s student-run Safety Services office operates a safety
shuttle for students looking for extra security when traveling on
either campus. The shuttle runs during the semester from three
different South Campus locations and from locations within a 1.5
mile radius of South Campus (as well as Kensington Village,
Collegiate Village and Campus Manor). Students can call 829-2584 in
advance and request to be picked-up at other South Campus
locations. There are also walk stations on both campuses from which
students can be escorted to their destination.
In addition, UB Police have launched a very successful public
awareness campaign to make students aware of their vulnerability to
automobile break-ins. As part of the in initiative, University
Police distribute thousands of “vehicle burglary report
cards” to staff and student vehicles parked in South Campus
lots. The flyers provide tips on how to prevent theft of personal
belongings from parked cars.
In addition, UB’s Personal Safety Committee meets monthly
to recommend further actions and programs to raise the level of
safety awareness among all members of the university community. The
meetings are open to all faculty, students and staff.
Why doesn’t UB Police regularly patrol the Heights neighborhood?
The law allows SUNY Police to patrol the campus and streets that
directly border the campus, but the law limits their authority
outside these strict boundaries. UB police officers are, however,
authorized to assist Amherst and Buffalo officers during patrols,
arrests and investigations, and they often do. Because of this
arrangement, UB was able to launch joint patrols in the Heights
neighborhood each semester with officers from the Buffalo Police
Department. To make UB Police even more available to assist in peak
times during the semester, the university added additional officers
to the 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. patrol on UB’s campuses. This
staffing upgrade was made in response to feedback from residents of
the Heights and the campus community who requested additional
What is UB doing to improve quality of life and community relations in the Heights?
Improving the quality of life and relationships in the
neighborhood is a priority of UB’s community outreach.
Working with community leaders and neighborhood residents, UB has
implemented several initiatives that are having a positive effect
on the neighborhood and its relationship with the university. These
- Ongoing grass-roots collaboration with community groups, such
as the University Heights Collaborative, University District Block
Club Coalition, Buffalo Promise Neighborhood and the South Campus
Community Development Association, to encourage dialogue and
creation of mutually beneficial solutions.
- Re-launch of a new Employee Assistant Program to encourage UB
employees to purchase homes as a means of stabilizing the Heights
and other neighborhoods around UB’s South Campus.
- Attendance at monthly Buffalo Police District Community
Meetings with the Chief, along with other residents to discuss
strategies on how to reduce the incidence of crime in the
- Creation of a Community Relations Advisory Council to focus on
issues of concern to community members and how UB can improve its
relationship with the community.
- Creation of free community events, such as the “UB on the
Green” summer concert series and a community Farmers Market,
which gives neighborhood residents an opportunity to enjoy the UB
South Campus and also helps to build good community
- Creation of a quarterly “UB Neighbor” newsletter,
which is mailed to 16,000 residences in the Heights and near the
South Campus, updating them on UB’s community-relations
initiatives and outreach on the South Campus and in the surrounding
Why doesn’t UB buy the properties in the Heights neighborhood, rent them to students and monitor their behavior?
UB offers housing on both the South and North campuses. If the
university purchased homes in the community, they would come off
the tax rolls. Instead, we are focusing our efforts on encouraging
faculty and staff to purchase homes in the Heights under UB’s
new H.O.M.E. Program. More than 20 UB employees have purchased
homes around the South Campus through a similar program, joining
nearly 500 of their fellow UB employees currently living in the
Heights. With the incentives offered under the new H.O.M.E.
Program, many more employees may take advantage of this great
Shouldn’t UB be doing more for the Heights neighborhood?
The issues within the Heights require long-term, community-wide
solutions. UB is committed to developing and implementing such
solutions in partnership with the community and the City of
Buffalo. For example, UB is investigating development of a Heights
neighborhood plan, in partnership with the City of Buffalo and
community leaders. Such a plan would provide opportunities for the
Heights to strategically leverage UB’s growth on the South
Campus. In effect, this plan would be a blueprint for improving and
attracting investment in the neighborhood and its commercial
district. This plan would raise awareness about the needs of the
Heights and provide opportunities for local and regional leaders to
support and develop the neighborhood.