An update on public safety and anti-violence initiatives

Dear Colleagues, 

Over the last several months, I am sure you have seen some of the harrowing headlines that illustrate the tragic ways in which gun violence is affecting the country and our region. Philadelphia, like many cities across the United States, is confronting an unprecedented epidemic of violence. Unfortunately, it has, at times, also hit very close to home. 

As dedicated faculty and staff members, you are ambassadors for Temple University. I know that you sometimes find yourselves in the uncomfortable position of being asked by students, their families and even people in your own communities what Temple is doing to combat the violence. I speak for the entire Temple administration when I say that we appreciate all that you do—in better times and in difficult ones. 

With the start of the fall semester upon us, I wanted to update you on our public safety and anti-violence initiatives. It is imperative that you know what we are doing, and that we are doing everything we can to ensure that Temple is a safe community.  

While our students were away for the summer, our Department of Public Safety (DPS) has been hard at work. Here is just a snapshot of some of what has been accomplished. 

  • The new one-touch personal safety app TUSafe launched on Aug. 14
  • Less than one year after agreeing to a new four-year contract, Temple University and the Temple University Police Association (TUPA) reached an agreement on additional terms to the contract that provide even better compensation for police officers. 
  • Drawing from evidence-based research and best practices from other law enforcement agencies across the country, the department has been restructured so that it can better serve the Temple community.  
  • In addition to new or upgraded equipment, the department is also exploring gun detection technology, automated license plate readers and GPS for police officers. 
  • Police officers are now working 12-hour shifts as part of a new pilot program. This has had a positive effect on both officer wellness and staffing of patrol shifts, as on some shifts, there are now an additional three to six officers patrolling within the patrol zone. 
  • The university has worked to increase its outsourced security staffing. In particular, Allied Security bike patrols within the patrol zone will increase by approximately 25% this fall, and strategic deployment will enable increased engagement with residents in a particular patrol area. 
  • Nearly 500 new cameras have been purchased to replace older equipment and will be installed in the coming weeks. Eighteen Code Blue phones are being updated with 360-degree cameras, which will be completed within the first few weeks of the semester. Additionally, DPS is purchasing five additional cameras for donation to the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) which will be installed in areas near campus with limited camera coverage. The DPS has also signed an agreement allowing access to PPD cameras located within the patrol zone. 

I invite you to learn more about the various enhancements to our Department of Public Safety.

We also recognize that gun violence is a complex issue. It requires both an immediate response like that which we are seeing from our Department of Public Safety as well as a commitment to pursuing long-term, holistic solutions. 

Last year, our Violence Reduction Task Force recommended that the university develop a comprehensive and coordinated strategy for community engagement efforts focused on violence reduction. The comprehensive report that was conducted on our public safety function through former commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department Charles H. Ramsey and his firm, 21CP Solutions, reinforced this key concept, and we are pleased to say that we are well on our way.  

In May, Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke introduced a resolution that called for Temple and the city to partner to create a task force that would work to address the underlying factors that contribute to violence. Just last week, together with Council President Clarke, I convened the first meeting of the leadership group of the Community-Temple Partnership Safety Zone, and together, we are eager to work together toward this shared goal. 

This fall, we will open the Temple Community Gateway that will be available to anyone in North Philadelphia. Think of this as a one-stop shop where community members can come to gain access to a number of resources, both here at Temple and across Philadelphia.  

We believe that this hub can be an important part of the solution in North Philadelphia. You can learn more about the ways we believe it will help transform lives and positively impact this community. 

Thank you for everything you do to support both this university and our students. I wish you the very best as the fall semester gets underway. 


JoAnne A. Epps 
Acting President