Safety measures for off-campus students
This page is a collaborative effort between the Binghamton City Police Department, the New York State University Police and the Division of Student Affairs at Binghamton University. Both Binghamton University and the city of Binghamton are committed to providing a safe environment for all students and citizens in our community. This guide outlines important safety information and offers easy-to-follow guidelines to help you stay safe, out of harm's way.
In fall 2004, the City of Binghamton received Operation Impact grant funding to raise citizen awareness of crime on the city's most dangerous streets. The purpose of the grant is to reduce street violence and educate the community in personal safety measures. To combat crime effectively, the Binghamton Police Department and Binghamton University have partnered to educate citizens and students on ways to reduce the risk of victimization. It is the hope of our policing agencies that, by combining citizen activism with police and University responses, we can help reduce violence and crime.
- Have working lights at all entrances.
- Have locks on all doors and windows, and use them.
- Do not use your full name on your mailbox, in the telephone directory or on your answering machine.
- Know which neighbors you can depend on in an emergency.
- Check to see who is at the door before opening it.
- Don't hide extra keys in accessible places. Criminals will find them.
- Never give personal information to telephone solicitors.
- Ask for photo identification from all repair personnel. If you are suspicious, call to verify their employment.
- Do not let strangers into your home to use the telephone. Offer to make the call for them.
- Consider creating a "safe room" with a separate telephone line or cell phone. If someone breaks in you can retreat there and call for help.
- Stay with a friend or group whenever possible.
- Stay away from heavily wooded, poorly lit or secluded areas.
- Do not wear headphones.
- Be wary walking by shrubbery or other heavy vegetation that could be used as hiding places.
- Wear brightly colored clothing to improve your visibility.
- Vary your route and pattern.
- Carry a whistle or personal-alarm device.
- If you're being followed, go to the nearest residence, open business or group of people.
- Carry the keys for your vehicle or home with you.
In a vehicle
- Keep your car in good working order and the gas tank at least half full.
- As you approach your parked car, check for any suspicious persons in the vicinity.
- Always park in visible, well-lit areas.
- Have your keys ready when approaching your car to reduce the time needed to enter.
- When driving, keep the doors locked and the windows rolled up.
- Exercise caution when using underground parking garages. If possible, avoid going there alone.
- Avoid parking near large pickup trucks or vans. They can be used as convenient hiding places.
- Carry in your car: flashlight, fix-a-flat, maps, warm clothing, first-aid kit, empty gas can.
- Do not open your window if someone approaches your car to ask for directions, the time, etc. Keep car doors locked.
- When stopped at traffic lights, allow space between you and the car in front so you can drive away if necessary.
When using public transportation
- Advise a family member, roommate or friend of your travel route and time. Call when you arrive safely.
- Have the exact fare ready to avoid fumbling for money or displaying extra cash.
- Sit in an aisle seat if possible. This allows you to observe your surroundings and avoid getting "boxed-in" against the window.
- Sit near the driver/operator if possible, but avoid sitting next to the door. A thief could snatch your belongings and quickly exit.
- Avoid dozing off or becoming overly engrossed in what you're reading. It can make you an easy target.
- Keep your purse, bags, backpack or packages close to you. Do not leave them on an empty seat.
- Be wary of noisy passengers arguing or causing a commotion. This could be staged to distract you while others are trying to steal your valuables.
- Observe the behavior of those around you. If you feel uneasy, change your seat or alert the driver.
Burglars strike homes and apartments in the United States on average once every 15 seconds. If burglars pick your place of residence instead of the one next door, chances are you helped invite them there. Don't be what the police call a "target of opportunity." To keep your home safe while you're out of town, do the following:
- Set automatic timers for indoor and outdoor lights, televisions and radios.
- Set poles in the tracks of your sliding glass doors.
- Leave keys with a neighbor. Do not hide extra keys outside. Burglars will look there first.
- Ask neighbors to check your home regularly and have a number where you can be reached in an emergency.
- Leave drapes and shades open to make the house appear occupied.
- Ask a neighbor to use your garbage cans. Empty garbage cans are clues that you're away.
- Leave a parked car in your driveway.
- Call the Binghamton Police Department at 607-772-7076 to make a vacant-house report. The police will check your house while you are away.
Interacting with the police
Police officers continually interact with citizens in the course of fulfilling their duties, and they are trained to do so safely, efficiently and effectively. A problem may occur, however, when individuals do not know how to react or respond appropriately when approached by police officers. Police ask questions for good reasons. They may be checking out a complaint they have received from someone else in your neighborhood. They may be responding to a report of criminal activity in your area. The following is a guide on ways to successfully interact with local law enforcement agencies.
When approached by police
- If a police officer stops and questions you, your forthright responses will usually resolve the situation quickly. If the officer hasn't told you why you have been stopped, ask.
- If you are unwilling to respond, the officer must respect your right not to answer. However, your cooperation could be helpful in aiding a police investigation.
- When police come to your residence, they should show identification and state their purpose.
- If the officer has a warrant, you may ask to see a copy.
- If you are part of a crowd of people told by a police officer to disperse, you should obey the request. Failure to do so could result in your arrest.
- When signaled by an officer to stop, pull over safely, out of the flow of traffic.
- Sit calmly with your hands visible on the steering wheel. Avoid sudden movements or ducking in the seat as this could inadvertently alarm the officer.
- Turn your car's interior light on once the car is stopped. The officer will want to look inside.
- Do not get out of your car unless you are asked.
- Put the officer at ease by telling him or her in advance what you will be doing before you move.
- If requested, you must give the officer your driver's license and vehicle registration.
- If you are issued a citation, you will be asked to sign it. Signing it is not an admission of guilt but acknowledgement that you have received the citation.
University services available to off-campus students
- The Off Campus Services Office in University Union West, Room 204, 607-777-2768
- City of Binghamton Police liaison Christopher Governanti, who maintains an office in the University Downtown Center.
- An off-campus student listserv where information about safety, housing and upcoming events is listed.
- Late-night bus service, free to students.
- Programs and events for off-campus students to get to know each other and their neighbors.
- Safety messages sent to all students from University offices including the police.