New numbers from the the University of Tennessee Police Department (UTPD) indicate personal and property crimes have dropped in the Fort Sanders neighborhood adjacent to campus.
"Last year we experienced, or got to enjoy, a 22% reduction in overall crime in the Fort Sanders area compared to the year before," said UTPD Chief Gloria Graham.
Graham said her department started working with the Knoxville Police Department (KPD) last year to increase patrols in the neighborhood known by UT students as "The Fort." She said the drop in crime is the result of that partnership and residents changing their behaviors.
"I think we did a really good job in looking at what goes on up there, and then deploying targeted strategies to address those things," said Chief Graham.
UT Student, and Fort Sanders renter, Stephanie Forbert said she knew "The Fort" had a reputation for crime when she moved there a year ago. But, she said it's proximity to campus and The Strip made it an attractive place to live despite having items stolen from her front porch.
"It made me nervous when I first moved in, but it hasn't been too bad," said Forbert, "I would say there has definitely been a decrease in crime."
UT Police want to keep crime decreasing in "The Fort" so they are expanding their partnership with KPD to launch a new safety campaign.
"We are going to be meeting with them, looking over what kind of activity is taking place there, and designing a very specific strategy once per month to go out and do a combination of enforcement and education to target what's going on in the Fort Sanders area," said Chief Graham.
Officers will still patrol the streets, but they will also begin knocking on doors to establish relationships with Fort Sanders residents. The goal of the campaign is to get people to say something if they see something.
"We would rather they not wait for a crime to be a crime. We would rather they call us when something doesn't look right or feel right," explained Cheif Graham.
Forbert said she thinks the added layer of safety is a good step for "The Fort," "That's great. That really makes me feel good."
Officers will begin knocking on doors in Fort Sanders on Tuesday, August 9, 2011. Those foot patrols will continue monthly.