Hyde Park

University of Chicago Addresses Safety Concerns Following Murder of Graduate

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The University of Chicago held a meeting Wednesday night addressing the growing concern of crime and violence in the Hyde Park neighborhood and what’s being done differently to prevent another tragedy.

Some students attending the university say they are worried about their safety following the robbery and murder of Shaoxing Zheng, also known as Dennis. He’s the third student from the University of Chicago killed so far this year.

“When a community member is struck down we lose a part of ourselves. The void left by the loss of Dennis and the promise of his life will never be filled,” said university President Paul Alivisatos. “We share in the grief felt by Dennis’ family and friends and those in our immediate community and communities in the South side.”

University leaders, along with Chicago Police Department Supt. David Brown, addressed security and safety concerns on and around campus from reports of shooting to robberies.

“We immediately expanded our resources and are now pursuing new innovative partnerships and initiatives to express our safety challenges,” said Eric Heath, U of C associate vice president for safety and security.

Since the tragedy last week the university said it has increased patrols, added more police cameras and expanded its free ride-sharing program. The university said it's launching a new 24-hour strategic operations centers allowing U of C police to share information and data in real time. The school is also creating a victims servicing unit to provide advocacy and support for victims of violent crimes.

“I would like to state unequivocally that safety is my top priority,” said Alivisatos. “We are diligently working to make it safer on and around campus.”

Brown said CPD has added additional officers and has plans to add more by the end of the year. He would like to see more beat patrols and what he described as traffic safety missions to deter or capture the criminals.

“Think about this offender—he was in a stolen car,” said Brown. “If we had traffic safety missions in or around the campus we could have stopped him and arrested him for being in a stolen car before he even committed the robbery. So the more traffic safety missions, the more likelihood you are to deter offenders and/or capture them before they’re able to commit a crime.”

The university is holding a memorial service Thursday for Dennis Zheng. The public is welcome to attend the 3 p.m. service at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

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