Students fear for safety amid multiple robberies

Abhib Lal Amatya

On Monday, Nov. 1 at 9:30 pm an Augustana student was ordering at a McDonald’s drive-through just a few minutes away from campus. According to both Alex Anderson, senior and Ryley Knar, senior, a robber came up to the student’s car, pointed a gun at him, and took away his valuables. According to an email from Dean Wes Brooks, the robbery in question is not in Public Safety’s patrol pattern, and there have been no reports of robberies on campus.

According to Anderson, who lives off-campus near Brandon’s Pub, this is not the first time a robbery like this has happened to students. Anderson recalled his experience on the night of Oct. 2, 2021.

“I was walking home late at night, alone. I was maybe around 30 feet from my home when two guys came out of the Weber Park area. One of them had a gun. They robbed [me of] $100 cash and ran through Weber Park. I then went home and called the cops and they came but could not do anything,” Anderson said.

Anderson said that an investigation took place following the incident, but the people who robbed them were never caught.

Ryley Knar, a senior, said he had also heard from other students about similar incidents from earlier in the semester.

Knar said he believes that Public Safety is not doing enough, and he also said he believes that the number of such incidents have grown over his four years at the college.

Tom Phillis, Augustana chief of police, said that he is proud of the work that Public Safety has accomplished, and that there are several measures already in place to work to ensure the safety of students.

“The on campus safety for our students is the number one priority for our team and the entire Augustana community,” Phillis said. “The college already has a robust security structure including card access, security cameras, ACES, and we are always exploring new initiatives to enhance our safety program.”

In addition to the most recent incident near Augustana, Knar said he had also heard about an unreported case of someone getting robbed at the Swanson parking lot on the same Monday night and a shooting that happened in Lincoln Park during his freshman year.

Knar said he was frustrated with Public Safety when he saw multiple public safety cars sitting in a lot, idling the night after the robbery.

“It was really frustrating to see that literally after what happened on Monday for them to be just sitting in the parking lot,” Knar said.

He said that it was not right, and said that he feels like Public Safety is not doing enough to keep students safe.

In response, Phillis said that the response time of public safety, in regards to events that are reported off campus, depends on the time the incident is reported. Some actions they might take include sending a community safety alert, contacting the student involved, and actively searching for the suspect.

“The protocol on events that occur off campus are related to the time in which the incident is reported to our office. For incidents on and off campus, Augustana’s Police/Public Safety officers are working closely with the Rock Island Police Department,” Phillis said.

In accordance with the high trend of crime around campus, statistics show that Rock Island crime rates are higher than the national average. According to data by Neighborhood Scout, Rock Island’s crime index is just 17, meaning it is safer than just 17% percent of US cities. The annual number of violent crimes in the city is 139. Augustana College’s location comes just 10 among safest neighborhoods in Rock Island.