CHICAGO – Top University of Chicago officials joined the head of the Chicago Police Department to address growing concerns surrounding school safety after the slaying of a recent graduate.
Shaoxiong “Dennis” Zheng became the third University of Chicago student to be killed this year.
“Safety is my top priority. We are diligently working to make it safer on and around our campus,” said university president Paul Alivisatos.
On Wednesday night, Alivisatos joined the head of the university’s police department Eric Heath and Chicago police Supt. David Brown to discuss ways law enforcement can become more vigilant.
“We are urgently looking for places to put more cameras, both outside the campus of University of Chicago and on campus,” Alivisatos said.
Officials say extra cameras and license plate readers will be coming to the area. There will also be an extra focus on faster information sharing between university and city police departments.
“We have largely been sharing info after the fact. It needs to be in real-time,” Heath said.
Moving forward, officials promised an increased emphasis on monitoring the area’s traffic and more “blue light missions” with patrol cars keeping their lights on to deter criminals from coming into the area.
Top officials warned culprits if crimes are committed around the university, “you will be caught.”
Brown also promised additional police presence in the area.
“More officers coming to the 2nd District, the District that covers the campus. So we added six recently, we’re are going to add an additional 10 coming up to the holidays and then another 10 early in the new year,” Brown said.
The seminar comes one day after students marched on campus demanding better security procedures, more campus police, and other improvements following Zheng’s death. Witnesses said Zheng was walking in the 900 block of East 54th Place around 2 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9, when a man in a mask and black hoodie approached him.
Zheng died following a struggle. Police arrested an 18-year-old man in connection with his murder.
“They pawned the items in his backpack for 100 dollars,” Brown said. “I’d rather have Mr. Zheng and all these students here.”
Last year, amid the George Floyd protests, many students challenged law enforcement and pushed for the abolishment and defunding of on-campus police, as reported by the Chicago Tribune.