Despite recent security alerts, police report both PNW campuses remain as safe as ever

Last month, many students were surprised when the PNW Alert Me system sent warning texts on consecutive days. But campus and local police say both campuses are safe.

Last month, many students were surprised when the PNW Alert Me system sent warning texts on consecutive days. But campus and local police say both campuses are safe.

Though several recent security alerts have made some students uneasy, police assert that both campuses are as safe as they’ve ever been.

Over two days in September, campus police issued two Rave Alert Texts warning students about situations around the Hammond campus. On Sept. 20, a text went out advising students about a suspect with a firearm near the 7200 block of Wicker Street. The following day, an alert was issued warning of a sexual assault in a Gyte building elevator.

PNW Police Chief Brian Miller said the two alerts were rare and their proximity was coincidental. Hammond police agree that the campus is safe.

“I get alerts for any major crime that happens in the city, and I haven’t seen the campus come up in forever,” said Lt. Stephen Kellogg, a spokesperson for the department. “Before this attack in the elevator came, it had been a long time. I think it just was probably bad luck at the time that you got back-to-back ones.

“We don’t necessarily have to get involved because the campus is very safe and secure,” he said. “If there is anything they do need us in, we do get involved. It’s not lack of cooperation, it’s lack of need for it on campus.”

While many students said they feel safe on campus, some acknowledged the back-to-back alerts made them nervous.

“I was shaken up,” said Josephine Knapikw, a Communication major. “I was glad I wasn’t on campus. If a big man wanted to hurt me, he could. I didn’t even know we had security.”

Construction and Engineering major Matthew Rogers said he was a little concerned.

“I always feel comfortable here,” he said. “But there’s always a ‘what-if’ chance of something happening. You can’t really combat against that.” 

Ariana Roganowicz, a Finance major, agrees. 

“I feel more protected than other people do just because of my background, how I was raised,” she said. “I know how to handle myself in those situations. I know I feel fine, but my roommates were all freaking out.”

The two incidents that resulted in alerts were unrelated.

On Sept. 20, the university issued a warning about a crime that occurred off campus. An armed man suspected of domestic battery was believed to be somewhere on the 7200 block of Wicker Street, just a block from University Village. Later, police determined that the man had fled to East Chicago.

The following day, a warning was issued after a man on one of Gyte’s elevators groped a female.

Four campus police officers responded in minutes to the Gyte assault, according to Miller. He said the man escaped, but the officers searched the campus, surrounding areas, interviewed witnesses and have been poring through security footage, including from area homeowners. 

Miller said it has been more than six years since a sexual assault like the groping has occurred on campus. 

To reassure students and make sure they are safe, Miller has increased patrols in the buildings and offers self-defense classes. 

“We offered self-defense classes every spring and fall pre-pandemic, and we will be offering it again in October,” he said. “We will be doing classes in both Hammond and Westville.” 

The university is also adding more security cameras inside and outside of buildings.