KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — More than 6,300 new students will be making the University of Tennessee (UT), Knoxville their new home starting this year.
With more people on campus come more concerns for safety. Officer Tony Dillard with the University of Tennessee Police Department (UTPD) said providing a safe campus environment is the department's number one priority.
"Our responsibility is to be available, our responsibility is to provide resources and be here as a resource to help enrich the knowledge that our community has," he added. "It is our responsibility to let our community know that we are here."
Officer Dillard shared with 10News seven tips students and staff on the UT campus should follow:
1. Always be aware of your surroundings: Officer Dillard said most crimes on UT campus are crimes of opportunity or instances where people have their belongings stolen.
"For students that may be in our public buildings and things like that, like, for example, being in the library, we encourage them that, if you have valuables with you, or you know, using them to study and things like that if you leave to go to the restroom if you are just going to go get a coffee at Starbucks, take those items with you," Dillard said.
2. Find the "blue phones": UTPD has installed poles with a blue light on top all across campus. With just pressing a button at those poles, people could be in direct contact with dispatch in just a matter of seconds.
3. Download the LiveSafe App: This app allows you to send a link to anyone and, in that link, it will tell the person where you are and where you plan on being. If you do not arrive at that destination within the appointed time, it will notify that person that they need to check on you. The app also has a Safe Walk feature where the person that you sent that link to can watch you live and trace your movements.
4. Use the buddy system: Avoid walking around campus alone, especially at night or when the campus seems desolate.
5. Travel through well-lit and populated areas
6. Take a UTPD class: UTPD's Community Relations Unit (CRU) offers courses, including a Self Defense class, that could help you feel safer on campus. You can find more information on these classes and how to enroll here.
7. Use your voice as your most powerful weapon: "Most of the time an assailant doesn't want to be identified, doesn't want to draw any attention to the situation that is going on," officer Dillard explained. "So we know that, by using our voice, whether it is to yell for help, or you know, just to draw attention, that a lot of times mitigates the situation that is at hand."