GVPD promotes safety with RAD, prevention programs

Kara Haight

If you’re walking by Grand Valley State’s University’s Kirkhof Center room 2215 Feb. 8 around 6 p.m., don’t be surprised to hear screams of “No!” and “Stay back!”

There’s no reason to be alarmed. The shouting is part of Rape Aggression Defense, or the RAD program, organized by the GVSU Women’s Center and presented by members of the Grand Valley Police Department.

The program, which Theresa Rowland of the Women’s Center said is not meant to teach martial arts, will incorporate self-defense skills.

“(RAD focuses) on self-confidence and assertiveness skills,” Rowland said. “The program includes education and basic information around awareness, prevention, risk reduction and personal growth.”

The Women’s Center began hosting the event this semester, but GVPD officers will also be participating in the program.

Along with helping with RAD, GVPD offers a wide range of safety-oriented programs and events year-round. While most focus on teaching students about what to do after an assault, crime or theft, GVPD also encourages awareness and prevention.

“Our police department encourages everyone within this environment to be alert, aware and responsible for themselves, others and the community by taking advantage of the educational opportunities regarding safety,” the website reads.

Other campus safety programs of GVPD include personal security and the safe walk program implemented at GVSU last year.

Brian Kingshott, a GVSU criminal justice professor, said GVPD’s programs are good, but the responsibility should really be on students.

“Students need to become involved and take the excellent advice being offered; students are too complacent,” Kingshott said.

Another main program, created by GVPD to combat GVSU’s largest on-campus crime, is theft prevention. Larceny is defined in the 2012 Security Report as “the unlawful taking, carrying, leading or riding away of property from the possession or constructive possession of another.”

In 2009, 83 larcenies were reported by the GVSU Security Report and in the 2012 report that number rose to 140 larcenies reported on the Allendale Campus and 21 on the GVSU Pew Campus, making it the most occurring crime at GVSU for the last three years.

Kingshott said the prevention programs do work, but students need to take advantage of them to succeed.

“The programs are excellent but the student response is poor because student apathy rules,” he said. “A good outcome will only be gained if there is a responsible input from the student community.

While theft is definitely a recurring crime on both campuses, it’s also extremely preventable.

GVPD’s website offers tips to prevent theft such as making sure doors and windows are locked and not leaving belongings in plain view.

While Kingshott said theft is a problem in all communities, the precautions and prevention techniques offered by GVPD would help with the problem.

“No crime happens in isolation and someone (might have) relevant information which should be passed to GVPD,” Kingshott said. “Too often no one wants to get involved if it does not directly involve them or impact their lives.”

While GVSU offers a self-defense physical education class as part of its yearly courses, the three-hour RAD program is presented to GVSU students multiple times each semester.

GVPD’s prevention programs may be ongoing year-round, but Kingshott said student attendance and participation at these events is key.

“Working together we can all make a difference and improve the GVSU community by showing we care and will not accept any form of deviant behavior,” he said.

For more information about GVPD programs or GVSU crime statistics go to www.gvsu.edu/gvpd. For more information about RAD or to sign up for the Feb. 8 event go to gvsu.edu/women_cen.
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