Syracuse University

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Message from SU Chief and Director of Public Safety Tony Callisto Regarding Incident at Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity House

September 20, 2009

Dear SU Community Members,

As chief of Syracuse University’s Department of Public Safety (DPS)—but also as a parent of a current SU student—my utmost priority is the safety of our students. I want to take this opportunity to address concerns you may have about an incident that occurred last night at Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house in which three SU fraternity members were stabbed by a non-SU connected individual who was denied entry to a fraternity event. None of the injuries were life-threatening, the students are recovering, and they are receiving support and assistance from our Department and the University’s Division of Student Affairs.

While the incidents of violent crime have actually decreased in the University area during the past four years, any incident of violent crime, such as this one, is unacceptable. As soon as last night’s incident was reported, a DPS officer was immediately on the scene, chased down the suspect and arrested him. There were also nearly a dozen DPS units and city police units that responded to the immediate area within a minute. That response included me and DPS Assistant Chief Mike Rathburn.

This quick response is partly a result of the new DPS Orange Watch Unit established in 2007, which has added 40 percent more patrols to the SU area on Sunday through Wednesday nights during the academic year, and 60 percent more patrols Thursday through Saturday nights. This results in walking, bicycle, or vehicle Public Safety patrols on virtually every student-living area street every few minutes—a practice that resulted in the immediate arrest of last night’s suspect.

The establishment of Orange Watch was part of our ongoing efforts to expand and enhance our safety and security resources, and we are always exploring new ways to help ensure the safety of our campus. For example, within the past few weeks, the University completed the first phase of a video camera surveillance system that included the placement of 168 new cameras at the entrances and exits of all residence halls.

We’ve also enhanced Orange Alert, our campus crisis notification system, with the installation of outdoor sirens on both North Campus and South Campus. We also now have over 130 blue light emergency call boxes around campus. The campus transportation system has been enhanced with additional routes to cover more off-campus housing locations. Further, our community policing efforts have increased significantly around campus and our officers routinely engage both students and non-students in on-street conversations. This process both builds trust with students and deters would be criminals that might be in the area. We work closely with our colleagues at the Syracuse Police Department and we have increased the number of joint SPD/DPS team Neighborhood Safety Patrols in fraternity/sorority neighborhoods on Friday and Saturday nights. Overall, we are continually looking for ways to improve our service and increase our effectiveness.

I take every student’s safety very seriously. Last night’s incident reminds us that we must remain vigilant and proactive at all times. I would be happy to talk with anyone from the SU community who has concerns about this incident or other public safety matters, and offer that our Crime Prevention Unit is available for individual or group discussions or presentations. We can be reached at 315-443-5476 or at


Tony Callisto
Chief and Director of Public Safety
Syracuse University

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