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Safety initiative helps reduce crime around Grand Canyon University

(Grand Canyon University Photo)

PHOENIX — The area surrounding Grand Canyon University is getting safer, as crime rates have been dropping.

Crime in the area has been reduced by about 20 percent since 2012. That includes crimes such as burglary, auto theft and aggravated assault.

“That’s a significant reduction,” said Joe Yahner, director of public safety for the university.

The reduction is a result of the Neighborhood Safety Initiative, which is a partnership between the campus police and the Phoenix Police Department. The two agencies work together to reduce crime in and around the campus.

As part of the initiative, Phoenix police officers conduct extra patrols around the target area of 35th Avenue to the Interstate 17 and from Bethany Home Road to Indian School Road.

Yahner says officers from both agencies work very closely.

“We ask them to come on campus all the time,” he said. “We want them here.”

Officers from both agencies participate in on-campus training together, such as active shooter drills.

GCU officers also often give tours of the campus to Phoenix officers so that they know where everything is in case they need to respond to a call.

GCU officers respond to misdemeanor crimes on campus, and the Phoenix Police Department is called when more serious crimes occur.

“That’s a benefit to the Phoenix Police Department, because they don’t have to respond to GCU for a bicycle theft or a skateboard theft,” Yahner said.

“Some of the higher volume crimes that we get are thefts,” he added. “So by investigating that in-house, so to speak, it alleviates pressure from the Phoenix Police Department to allow them to police the rest of the city.”

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