From May to August of this year, the Riley County Police Department has responded to seven different calls for service due to a suspicious person in the neighborhoods of Todd Street, Claflin Avenue, and Fairchild Avenue on the west side of campus. Although seven calls seems high and reason for alert – especially due to prior assault incidents this year – only one call resulted in a police report.
Alex Powell, junior in kinesiology, said she experienced the suspicious person firsthand Aug. 16. Powell, returning home late, had just parked her car and started to walk towards the Delta Delta Delta sorority house when she said she saw someone in the shadows.
“I was trying to be aware of my surroundings and as I was walking up, I saw someone come out from the side of a parked Jeep and he started walking towards me,” Powell said. “I looked at him and looked away and then started to run as I felt him getting closer to me.”
She ran into her house and made it safely inside. Powell said it hadn’t really occurred to her what had just happened until she looked out the window to see him in the driveway for a moment longer before he ran away.
“I was really in shock when I realized what had happened,” Powell said. “I was freaking out, I just didn’t really know what to do.”
Powell said she called the police but didn’t pursue the option of filing a report. The other six calls made to the police were similar to Powell’s story, yet lacked a detailed enough description to verify that it was the same suspect for each incident. However, as of mid August no more calls have been received about the suspect. No arrests have been made in conjunction with the calls at this time.
Matthew Droge, public information officer for Riley County Police Department, said that these incidents do not make Manhattan a bad place to reside.
“Manhattan is a safe place to live,” Droge said. “There aren’t any ‘bad’ parts of Manhattan. It is like any other city, crime could happen anywhere.”
To handle said crime, Manhattan is protected by both The Riley County Police Department and K-State Police Department. The two law enforcement agencies work together to ensure the safety of the entire Manhattan community.
Capt. Donald Stubbings, captain of the K-State Police Department, said that the two law enforcement groups are in constant communication.
“We collaborate with Riley County Police Department a lot, they are a very great resource that we have for our campus,” Stubbings said.
The university is also equipped with several different resources that allow for the protection and safety of the public while on campus: Campus police patrol the campus 24/7; video surveillance and emergency phones are placed in strategic locations; and Wildcat Walk and Saferide provide a safer alternative to walking alone.
Wildcat Walk is a program designed to keep people safe while walking through campus. After a call to 785-395-7233 [SAFE], an officer accompanies the caller across the campus and up to two blocks off campus.
While these protection measures are helpful, it is important that students still tell people they trust where they are at all times, especially at night. At the very least, students should use the buddy system and walk with someone they’re comfortable with at night.
Stubbings said that individuals should remain attentive and always report suspicious activity.
“Always err on the side of caution,” Stubbings said. “If it’s suspicious to you, then it is probably suspicious to another student. Don’t be afraid to contact law enforcement.”