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SafePark could be costly

The cost to prevent vehicular crime at USF could be nearly $16,000 if approved later this month. SafePark, which is aimed at discouraging vehicle theft and vandalism, would hire students and use Safe Team golf carts to patrol parking lots that have the highest crime rates.

To start the program, it would cost about $15,990, which would cover expenditures for payroll for at least five employees as well as operational and maintenance costs for golf carts.

Student Government senator and student body presidential candidate Brandon Faza initially thought of the idea in January after his vehicle was vandalized. After organizing a three-member committee to create SafePark, the initiative turned into a potential partnership between SG and University Police.

In a separate cost, SG would provide $9,500 to University Police so the department could add a second motorcycle to its department. The $9,500 funds half the cost of a motorcycle, Faza said.

Money set aside in interim funding from student activity fees would be used to provide the $9,500 to UP, Faza said. Interim funding is reserved each fiscal year to be used to fund new organizations or for additional funding requested by an already established organization, Faza said.

About $225,000 was reserved this fiscal year and about $30,000 remains, Faza said.

Funding for SafePark costs will come from the upcoming fiscal year’s interim funding, which is expected to be about $260,000, Faza said.

Faza added that Safe Team’s budget is already $258,000 and the $16,000 would simply allow it to expand its service to students.

“If it’s going to enhance the personal and vehicle safety, then the committee feels it’s feasible,” Faza said.

At a SG Senate meeting last Tuesday, Sgt. Mike Purcell said a second motorcycle would allow UP to quickly respond to a crime alert from SafePark. A walkie-talkie would be purchased, under the SafePark costs, for each golf cart so students can alert UP of suspicious activity.

UP, Purcell said, would provide additional funding for the motorcycle plus training and equipment costs. Purcell gave a presentation to SG senators at last week’s meeting discussing how the motorcycle would be used for SafePark as well as UP’s decision to invest in BMW motorcycles.

Purcell said a BMW is more cost efficient in that it requires less operational costs and has safer brakes than a Harley Davidson or Yamaha. He added that SG would need to approve funding before the end of the semester to give UP the three months it needs to purchase the motorcycle with a police package and provide training for an officer.

“I know funding the police department is an idea that’s new and I don’t know what the response is, but if I didn’t believe a motorcycle was beneficial to students I wouldn’t be here pitching this proposal,” Purcell said.

Tonight, a resolution that supports paying half the cost for a UP motorcycle will be presented to the SG Senate but will not be voted on until next Tuesday, Faza said. If funding for the motorcycle is approved, Faza said, it would allow SafePark to begin in August and the fall semester would be used as a trial period so the three-member committee can analyze if the service is effective.

Faza and committee member Samvid Dwivedi, senator for the College of Arts and Sciences, said they would compare crime statistics in the monitored parking lots to the previous year.

“And if it’s successful, we want to know whether it’s worth funding for another semester,” Faza said.

“We want to make sure we’re not pushing crime into the other areas,” Dwivedi added.

The parking lots that will be patrolled, if SafePark starts in the fall, will be: the Sun Dome, Crescent Hill Garage, Engineering/Chemistry, the lot across from Magnolia Apartments and Mu Parking lot. These parking lots had the most crime reported during the fall, according to UP’s statistics. The lots would also be patrolled at different times according to time periods most crimes were reported in the designated lots. For instance, the Sun Dome and Engineering/Chemistry lots would be patrolled between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Meanwhile, the Crescent Hill would be patrolled between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. Crescent Hill has the most reported crime with 37 acts, that include burglary, theft and vandalism.

Faza said the resolution to support funding for SafePark would be first presented to the SG Senate on April 13 and would be scheduled for a vote April 20.