UMass police combating crime through alternative nights out, joi - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

UMass police combating crime through alternative nights out, joint patrolling

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UMass has made headlines with recent drinking and sexual assault arrests and now campus police are focused on cutting back on those numbers through alternative nights out for students and joint patrols.

They may look like fun and games, and for the most part they are, but they also serve a much larger purpose at the university.

"It's not to ruin their good time but it's just to make sure they're out there having a safe time and that they're not breaking the law," said Lt. Tom O'Donnell of the UMass Police Department.

One of UMPD's tactics to keep students on the right track is UMass Night Out, giving students the choice not to drink.

"The school gets a bad rap sometimes but most of us are here to get a good education and work here and do things like I'm doing tonight," said UMass senior, Brendan Toohuy.

In recent weeks, UMass has made headlines when police arrested a group of students for running an illegal bar out of their house.

And in October, a group of boys was arrested for sexually assaulting a UMass student in her dorm room.

Police said the good news is that these cases make up only a small proportion of students at the university.

"As you know we have issues on Thursday, Friday, Saturday night. But the reality is that's actually a small portion of the community we serve," O'Donnell said.

To combat those reports of crime, UMass and Amherst police now do joint patrolling.

"There's an Amherst officer and University of Massachusetts officer in a cruiser and we're able to go out and we deal with the problems that students are causing," O'Donnell said.

Events like UMass Night Out also remind students that police are on-campus to keep everyone safer.

"What we end up with is students who will come up to us later on as they see us walking around, and they'll talk to us and it's great to have that interaction," O'Donnell said.

According to CBS 3 Springfield's media partner Masslive and The Republican, the UMass police chief is expected to make recommendations for safety policies in the next couple of weeks.

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