Campus Police Must Warn Students
The Cambridge Police are to be commended for the timely capture of the suspected "Baybank bandit," accused of the recent armed robberies of six people, including two MIT students, at automated teller machines on the outskirts of campus. Cambridge Police actively pursued the investigation and worked closely with the victims to establish a profile of the suspect. Based on this profile, a Cambridge police officer was able to recognize the suspect during a house break-in last Tuesday evening.
While the Campus Police lack the mandate or manpower to follow up robberies with a large-scale investigation, they can and should warn the MIT community about any specific threats to their safety, both on and off campus. However, the Campus Police failed miserably at this task in regard to the ATM robberies. It is possible that they put members of the MIT community further at risk because of their failure to communicate relevant information promptly.
In response to the first armed robbery of an MIT student at the Kendall Square ATM, the Campus Police ineffectually responded by sending out a year-old list of safety tips. "Your awareness will help eliminate the opportunity of becoming a victim of a crime," the document read. The Campus Police made no attempt to increase the awareness of readers beyond a list of general safety tips. No mention was made of the reason for the bulletin, and no warning was provided about the suspect or the known locations of the robberies.
About the only useful on-campus response to the armed robberies was the extension of the hours of the ATM room in Lobby 10, announced after the arrest of the suspect. Still, the extension is only until 8 p.m. and the machines remain closed on weekends.
The ATM robberies have made two things readily apparent. First, the Campus Police need to be much more effective in disseminating relevant, specific information about serious criminal activity, and second, safe, indoor ATMs must be made more convenient for student use.