COD struck with first armed robbery in 5 years

Bridget Kingston, News Editor

At approximately 10:30 p.m. on Monday Sept. 12, two males approached a female student in the Fawell D parking lot and threatened her with a handgun to obtain her purse and backpack. They fled on foot across Fawell Blvd. as an on-campus officer pursued them. The officer lost them as they ran into the neighboring apartment complex. Local law enforcement subsequently searched the area with canine assistance, but the suspects remain unfound. This incident marks the first armed robbery College of DuPage has seen since Nov. 2011.

“We are an open campus, and things that happen in our community, well, some of them are going to happen here,” COD Chief of Police Joe Mullin said. “In this example, it appears that the offenders came from off of our campus, targeted the young woman, and then fled off campus. We really don’t have much evidence to go off of beyond the fact that this is where it happened.”

At the time of the incident, Mullin estimated that there were three officers on duty. The college has a minimum of two officers on staff 24/7, however that number will grow dramatically during the day due to the swell in population. A typical daytime shift will have nine to 10 officers.

“I know three doesn’t sound like a very large number for the entire campus,” Mullin said, “but if you consider many of our neighboring towns of six to 8,000, they might only have two officers on duty at any given time as well. So the number of officers we have in this concentrated area actually provides a more thorough coverage than what the local communities are able to provide.”

The police department has call boxes and video surveillance scattered throughout campus to help ensure safety. Dysfunctional or non-operating call boxes have been a growing concern and have raised many questions for the police department.

“We have a very large number of both the call boxes and video cameras on campus,” Mullin said. “It is very probable that at any given time a few of them are in a state of repair. For the most part, all of our equipment is functional, yet there is a certain percentage that will always be in a state of repair.”

On the night of the robbery, Mullin said there was video footage of the incident, however the majority of the view is blocked by a tree.

The board of trustees has recently approved the funding for an exterior camera surveillance system, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Currently, there are only cameras within the campus looking out. The new wireless cameras will be placed around the perimeter of the campus shooting in, providing a more complete picture of everything that occurs.

“There is no way to facilitate the exchange of the thousands of people who come and go every hour,” Mullin said. “But that doesn’t mean we don’t continue to look for ways to increase safety on campus.”

The incident report remains confidential until the case is no longer under investigation by COD and local law enforcement.