Leaders from Lehigh and the City of Bethlehem met Tuesday in nearby Martin Luther King Jr. Park to announce a series of collaborative efforts aimed at providing a safer and more welcoming environment for residents of South Bethlehem.
Addressing a crowd of about 50 that included reporters, local leaders and members of the Lehigh Student Senate, Lehigh Interim President Kevin Clayton and Bethlehem Mayor Robert J. Donchez pledged continued cooperation as well as new initiatives to be jointly undertaken by Lehigh and the city it has called home for nearly 150 years.
The initiatives include the addition of new cameras in the neighborhood tied to Lehigh and the city’s emergency response system, the addition of new beat-patrol officers, increased weekend patrols, the new Emergensee app
recently unveiled to students, and joint cooperation between the city and the University in seeking funding to improve the way police can monitor the area.
Joined by chiefs of police Ed Shupp of Lehigh and Mark DiLuzio of Bethlehem, as well as Student Senate president Kerry Mallet, the speakers outlined a new era in cooperation at the park where Lehigh’s Community Garden is located.
Donchez, a former city councilman who grew up a few blocks from the Lehigh campus, placed safety atop his administration’s list of priorities. “It allows individuals to invest, students to learn and people to raise families within the city limits,” said Donchez. “It’s fundamental to moving the city forward.”
Donchez recently toured the South Bethlehem neighborhood where the event took place, addressing quality of life issues with neighbors and students. “The city is very fortunate to have such an outstanding institution as Lehigh.”
Clayton, a Lehigh alum, parent and board member who recently became Lehigh’s interim president, placed the focus on safety as well.
“Providing a safe environment for our students while they are here at Lehigh—and call Bethlehem home—is one of our primary considerations,” said Clayton. “This is where strong partnerships between the Lehigh and Bethlehem Police Departments are so beneficial, where if we work collaboratively our efforts are multiplied and the impact on South Bethlehem is felt by students and residents alike.
Clayton stressed the importance of Lehigh’s fully certified police department, continued cooperation with the City and the active role that students, faculty and staff must share in this effort.
Bethlehem Chief of Police Mark DiLuzio, who started his career in 1980 as an LUPD officer and worked with Shupp, called his time at Lehigh “one of the highlights of my career.” DiLuzio pointed to new cameras, more weekend patrols and personal vigilance as keys to increased public safety.
“This will enhance our ability to investigate and solve crimes and create a safer environment for businesses and residents,” said DiLuzio. “But we ask you to be careful and to remember that my door is always open.”
Shupp, Lehigh’s longtime chief of police, outlined some of the ongoing programs between the university and the city, including the potential addition of 10 neighborhood cameras, joint requests for new funding for safety initiatives and door-to-door student education programs.
The newest tool added to increase public safety on and off campus, the Emergensee app, was unveiled earlier this month, but Shupp also addressed the details of the new technology. A free app for iPhone and Android phones, it serves as a mobile, personal security system. By pressing the red EmergenSee button on their smart phone, users are connected directly to a dispatcher and can communicate directly via text, as well as capture video and audio information and the user's exact location.
Kerry Mallet, president of the Student Senate, addressed the conference as a representative of the approximately 50 student senate members, who in turn represent the larger student body at Lehigh.
“As speaker's before me have indicated, safety is a priority here at Lehigh and it is no different in the student senate, where we have a working committee on Safety, one of its most important committees,” said Mallet.
She urged those students with safety concerns to contact the Senate to voice their concerns. “We want to be aware of and responsive to your needs,” she said. “Any effort to improve safety on campus, whether it be a smart phone app, increased lighting, or a promise from law enforcement to work with other local agencies is good news for students and good news for South Bethlehem.”
Immediately following the press conference, Lehigh held its annual Off-Campus Student Outreach Reception at nearby Holy Ghost Church on Carlton Avenue, to discuss safety with students who have chosen to live outside the residence halls.