Public Relations  >  News Center  >  News Releases  >  August 2019  >  August 5, 2019  >  Business student helps police nab hit-and-run suspect
Business student helps police nab hit-and-run suspect

Riley BarryWhen Heider College of Business junior Riley Barry began an internship with Creighton Public Safety, he never thought he would serve an integral role in solving a police investigation.

At around 8:30 a.m. on July 12, two students in Creighton’s graduate-level Christian Spirituality Program, pressed the crosswalk button at Deglman Circle and began to cross 24th Street. As they were crossing, a car drove through the red signal light, hitting the pair. The car then left the scene, with the students suffering nonlife-threatening injuries.

A half-hour later, Barry reported to work at the Public Safety Office. Mike Reiner, senior director of Public Safety, was seated in front of the six video monitors at dispatch, working to identify relevant video evidence to support the Omaha Police Department’s investigation. When officers arrived at dispatch, Reiner handed Barry the mouse and instructed him to run the OPD officers through the key video evidence so the police could identify the vehicle.

“We were confident in his ability to run through the video that we had captured,” Reiner says. “He rose to the occasion.” “I kind of wanted to turn around and let (Reiner) do his own thing,” Barry says. “But I knew it would be better to step in and help the situation any way that I could.”

Barry worked with the police to quickly jump from camera to camera along 24th street to capture the car’s route, eventually leading to the suspect’s arrest later that day.

“It was a great opportunity for him to take something that he learned and put it to work into something that had a real-world impact,” Reiner says.

The rapid identification and subsequent arrest of the suspect would not have been possible two years, or even six months ago, Reiner says. Systematic upgrades to the campus electronic security system, that began in 2017, allowed Public Safety to quickly work with OPD and identify the suspect.

Across campus, there are more than 500 security cameras in place. With Barry’s assistance this summer, the cameras are now all linked and organized.

“We are able to solve a lot more incidents that are reported to us,” Reiner says.

Now, officers are able to easily move from camera to camera in live time, or through recorded footage, without having to rewind constantly. Public Safety officers working overnight shifts do not need to always wait for staff to arrive in the morning before beginning an investigation.

“If somebody comes in and said, ‘Somebody door-dinged my car on this date, time,’ the officer can investigate and solve it themselves. In any line of law enforcement, being able to run an investigation from start to finish is pretty satisfying,” Reiner says.

Other security improvements include an ongoing replacement of pan-tilt-zoom cameras with multisensor units. The new cameras record a panoramic view of the scene, rather than focusing on a single spot.

“As we’re replacing cameras, we’re looking at, ‘Do we put them in a slightly different place? Raise, lower, shift them?’” Reiner says. All of which, ensures that Public Safety has full coverage of the University.

Through his internship, Barry has explored campus to find each camera and make sure all are accounted for. He then integrated that information with the security software, creating a mapped system for the benefit of all officers.

“I’m a pretty analytical person, I like solving puzzles,” Barry says. “This has been the biggest puzzle I’ve solved in my life, and I love it.”

Now, “it’s easier to follow people on camera,” Dave Dibelka, PhD, associate director of Public Safety, says. “We are linking cameras with keycard access when we can.”

For instance, when a student uses his or her keycard ID to enter a residence hall, Public Safety is now able to connect the swipe with the lobby cameras. This assists officers in cases where there is a question if it was actually that student swiping in, or if that student lent his or her ID to a friend.

“Half the battle in the safety arena is the perception of safety,” Reiner says. “I hope people feel safer on campus because of these security upgrades. If something happens to you, we can respond to you quicker, we can investigate it, we can help you quicker, because I can see what’s happening.”

In 2017, Creighton introduced the POM (Peace of Mind) device to campus, giving users access to Public Safety right in their hands through a Bluetooth-enabled key fob device. When the device is pressed three times, it puts the user in contact with a Public Safety dispatcher. Reiner says 1,250 Creighton students currently own POMs, not including the incoming class.

“When you’re in a panic, you’re not thinking as clearly, you’re thinking of what you are used to,” Reiner says. “My generation would run to a pay phone. (Current students) would never even think to push the button (of a blue-light emergency phone). This is the technology students are using — wearables, Bluetooth devices.”

In addition to security cameras and the POM device, Public Safety offers a range of other services. The office employs 21 armed officers, six full- and part-time dispatchers, and three shift supervisors. Officers patrol campus 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and are available for emergency and nonemergency safety situations. Public Safety also offers educational presentations on various topics – from crime prevention to self-defense – to student and employee groups upon request. Contact Community Outreach Officer Tim Herron, 402-280-1805, for more information.

Students, faculty and staff also are encouraged to visit the Public Safety website for additional resources or follow Public Safety on its new Twitter account.

---

Creighton University is a Jesuit, Catholic university bridging health, law, business and the arts and sciences for a more just world.



A Jesuit, Catholic University since 1878


Creighton University - 2500 California Plaza - Omaha NE - 68178 - 402.280.2700

Contact the Webmaster - Copyright ©2019