Photo credit: Molly Gonzales

New safety initiatives have been implemented following a series of violent crimes that surpass last years numbers in San Marcos.

The San Marcos Police Department launched the “Your Safety Starts With You” campaign in an effort to spread safety awareness in a city with a growing crime rate. Alongside the initiative, the University Police Department is actively pushing for safety on campus to prevent students from falling victim to crime.

During SMPD’s campaign, officers will hold events and presentations, engaging with the community and promoting ways citizens can remain safe. More events, like the recent “Coffee with a Cop” are being coordinated.

SMPD plans to visit local student housing apartments to hold presentations explaining the ways students can stay safe. The department plans to work alongside UPD to promote the campaign.

SMPD Corporal Laray Taylor said after multiple break-ins and assaults in San Marcos, the police department wanted to start off the school year with safety tips.

“We want people to be thinking of safety, not paranoia, but safety,” Taylor said. “As a police department, we’re here to serve and protect but we can’t be everywhere. With a combined effort between the community and the department, we can promote a safer community.”

So far in 2019, San Marcos has experienced two murder-suicides, six homicides and a string of serial sexual assaults.

Crime in San Marcos has been increasing year-by-year with the growing population. This year only, it is estimated the population has jumped from about 64,589 to 65,234 people.

According to SMPD, the amount of violent crime is at about 294 offenses as of September 2019. This increase is compared to the 2018 total of violent crimes, which was about 277.

Compared to neighbor city New Braunfels, San Marcos has notably high crime. New Braunfels is at 156 violent crimes for 2019 compared to the 218 violent crimes committed in 2018. These numbers include violent crimes like assault, homicide and physical fights.

Marina Ramirez, psychology freshman, said the amount of times she has heard of crime occurrences in San Marcos is alarming.

“Although campus seems generally safe, hearing about people getting raped in their own apartments makes me want to be more cautious,” Ramirez said.

SMPD is not the sole law enforcement agency stressing the value of safety. In an effort to make campus a safer place, UPD is working on implementing a new on-campus after-dark transportation system to weed out any spots that pose as safety concerns and an initiative to upgrade lighting quality around campus.

As apart of the agency’s daily procedure, UPD has implemented “high visibility patrol,” which maintains a strong police presence on campus in utilizing bike patrol, vehicle patrol and on-foot officers.

Otto Glenewinkel, UPD certified crime prevention specialist, said having a strong relationship with the Texas State community is the department’s goal in keeping students safe.

“Along with officers present on campus, all of our members sit on different committees around the university to increase our outreach to student organizations and the students directly,” Glenewinkel said. “We work with the students and we work for the students. That’s who we try to be accountable to.”

With time and effort put into campaigns and initiatives, both agencies hope to combat the rise in crime in which San Marcos has fallen victim.

SMPD officers urge students to be aware of their surroundings, lock their doors and windows at night, travel in well-lit areas, avoid traveling alone and tell someone whenever they see potential criminal activity.

For more information on the “Your Safety Starts With You” campaign, visit the San Marcos Police Department Facebook page.

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