Community Outreach Promoting Safety (C.O.P.S.) is a multi-media community outreach system which uses educational PowerPoint slides designed to help the UHCL community focus on personal safety issues. Throughout the semester, the UHCL Police Department broadcasts slides on campus televisions and computers in an effort to reach as many community members as possible. The slides are geared to engage the community to take part in their own safety by educating them about safety related subjects, such as:
- Staying alert.
- Knowing where to find additional safety information.
- How to minimize chances for victimization.
- Hot button safety issues on campus.
What are skimmers?
Skimmers are illegal devices that criminals attach to debit or credit card readers that allow them to steal your personal information. These skimmers are commonly discovered at ATMs and gas station card readers, and most of them use Bluetooth technology. However, this same technology can also be used to detect these skimmers.
How can Bluetooth technology locate skimmers?
Your mobile device's Bluetooth can be used to detect a skimmer at a gas station or other location with a credit card reader. To determine if a skimmer is nearby, go to the settings on your smartphone and click on Bluetooth. If a long string of numbers and/or letters appears on your screen, it may be a sign that a card skimmer is being used. There are also mobile apps that can detect skimmers.
How can I avoid skimmers at the gas pump?
- Make sure the gas pump panel is closed and shows no signs of tampering. Many stations place security seals over the cabinet panel in an attempt to thwart gas pump tampering. If the panel is opened, the label will read "void," which means the machine has been tampered with.
- Take a close look at the card reader itself, compare it to the other readers at the station, and note any differences.
- Use your debit card as credit to protect your PIN and prevent any immediate withdrawal from a perpetrator. You can also simply cover your hand when entering your PIN. Some scammers use tiny pinhole cameras, located above the credit card keypad area, to record PIN entries.
- Regularly monitor your credit card and bank accounts and statements to ensure there aren't any unauthorized charges.
- Pay inside instead of at the pump, or use a pump near the front of the store, as criminals are less likely to target gas pumps that are easy for station attendants to see.
At UHCL, there is zero tolerance for falsely pulling a fire alarm. This offense is against the law, according to Texas Penal Code, Section 42.06, which states:
An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor unless the false report is of an emergency involving a public primary or secondary school, public communications, public transportation, public water, gas or power supply or other public service, in which event the offense is a state jail felony.
Consequences of False Fire Alarms or Reports
Class A Misdemeanor: A crime of this level is punishable by up to a year in jail and carry fines of $500 to $5,000. Anyone convicted of a false alarm or report faces a fine up to $5,000 and as long as one year in jail.
State Jail Felony: Making a false alarm or report can be enhanced to a state jail felony because UHCL is an educational institution. In Texas, state jail felonies are punishable by 180 days to two years in state jail and a fine up to $10,000.
Potential Risk to Others: An evacuation for any reason puts evacuees at risk for injury. In addition, if someone discovers that the alarm was false, they may disregard the next alarm, leading to the “Boy Who Cried Wolf” phenomenon. This could result in an inappropriate or delayed response with the next alarm, which can also create a danger risk.
Less Available Help for Real Emergencies: When someone pulls a fire alarm, emergency responders rush to the scene in case of a life-threatening situation. With these individuals on the scene, fewer responders would be available if a real emergency occurred at the same time.
Did you know ...
Dialing 911 from a UHCL phone triggers an emergency call to UHCL Police Department Dispatch?
The holiday season is a popular time of year for burglary, theft and other criminal activity. Here are some tips to prevent holiday crimes:
- Keep your vehicle's doors locked and windows closed. Lock your store purchases and gifts in your trunk to keep them out of sight.
- Always lock your doors and windows when you leave your home, even if you'll only be gone for a few minutes.
- Have your keys readily available in your hand before you go to your car, and look around to see if you're being followed.
- Before entering your car, scan the interior through the windows to be sure no one is hiding inside.
- Don't openly display your Christmas tree and gifts in the front window, where they're easily visible from the street.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Use checks or credit/debit cards instead, if possible.
- Carry your purse under your arm, and keep your wallet in an inside jacket pocket, not a back pocket.
- Use a light timer when you are away from home at night, or turn on a radio or television to create the illusion that the house is occupied.
- Ask a neighbor to pick up your newspapers and mail while you're away from home, or have the post office and newspaper suspend delivery until you return.
- Be aware of strangers approaching you for any reason. During the holiday season, "con-artists" try various methods of distracting you so they can steal from you.
- To discourage purse-snatchers, don't overburden yourself with packages and bags. Have your items delivered whenever practical.
- If you elect at-home delivery, retrieve the packages as quickly as possible, or arrange for them to be delivered in an area where they can't be easily seen.
What is stalking?
Stalking is a series of actions that make you feel afraid or in danger. These actions can be serious and violent, and can escalate over time.
What are some facts about stalkers?
- A stalker can be someone you know well or not at all.
- Most stalkers dated or were otherwise involved with the people they stalk.
- About 75 percent of stalking cases involve men stalking women.
What are some myths about stalking?
- Stalking only happens to celebrities.
- If you ignore a stalker, he/she will leave you alone.
- The notion of stalking is an illusion.
- If you claim you're being stalked, you're overreacting.
What should I do if I'm being stalked?
- Keep evidence of the stalking.
- When the stalker follows or contacts you, write down the time, date and place.
- Keep emails, phone messages, letters or notes that the stalker sends you.
- Photograph any part of your property that the stalker damages, and any injuries he/she causes.
- If there are witnesses to the stalking, ask them to write down what they saw.
- Tell family, friends, roommates and coworkers about the stalking, and seek their support.
- Tell the police at your school, and ask them to help watch out for your safety.
What should I do if I suspect I'm in immediate danger?
- Call 911.
- Trust your instincts; don't downplay the danger.
- If you feel you are unsafe, you probably are.
- Take all threats seriously.
- Danger generally is higher when the stalker talks about suicide or murder, or when a victim tries to end the relationship.
What is an active shooter event?
An active shooter event is an attempted mass murder with a firearm.
What is the typical profile of an active shooter?
Although there is no set "profile" for active shooters, most shooters are male and come from all races and ages. What they do have in common is the avenger mindset. Many are also very focused and deliberate with their actions, but also very detached, and many kill themselves when confronted by the police. Some announce their intentions by posting on social media or talking to their friends.
What is the best way to respond to an active shooter?
- Denial: If you hear gunshots or something that could be gunshots, go straight to the Deliberation phase.
- Deliberation: Flight, Fight or Freeze. Our recommendation is Avoid, Deny, Defend in this order of preference.
- Avoid: Leave as soon as possible, know your exits, call 911, and consider secondary exits, like windows.
- Deny: Turn off the lights. Barricade the doors, use belts to secure door hinges shut, and place obstacles in the way.
- Defend: If you cannot Avoid or Deny, be prepared for an encounter.
- Neutralize the threat. Evacuate the injured. Evacuate the area.
- When the police arrive, follow commands, and show your hands.
- The number of casualties is a product of two things: 1) How long it takes the police to arrive, and 2) Target availability.
If you receive a package at home or work, consider the following questions:
- If there's a return label, do you know the sender?
- Is the package properly labeled? Are there misspellings, excessive postage, or generic addresses or titles?
- Were you expecting the package? Is the package something that you ordered or regularly receive?
- Was the package delivered by a common carrier, such as FedEx, UPS, or the United States Postal Service?
- Does the package appear damaged, or are there oily stains, discolorations, protruding wires, or a strange odor?
It is important that you do not touch the package once you determine that it is suspicious. The package (or letter) will be evaluated by the responding police officer, and if necessary, explosive disposal experts will be called in to further handle the situation.
When in doubt, call your local police department. On the UHCL campus, dial 911, or 281-283-2222.
To contact the UHCL Police Department, call Extension 2222 from an on-campus phone, or 281-283-2222 from a cell phone. You may also dial 911 from any UHCL phone. It is not necessary to dial a 9 before 911 like you would for other outgoing calls.
When dialing 911, you will be connected directly to the Greater Harris County 911 Emergency Network. UHCL Police Dispatch will receive an alert with the location of the call and will be able to listen to the call. UHCL Police Dispatch will not be able to speak to you during this call.
Because outside responders may not be as familiar with UHCL campus landmarks, buildings and room numbers, calling UHCL Police Dispatch directly at Extension 2222 will help ensure a timely and accurate response. Our dispatchers will send UHCL police officers immediately and ensure that the fire department or ambulance proceeds to the correct location.
We understand that accidental 911 calls happen, particularly when calling a long-distance number from a UHCL line (e.g., 9, 1-800-555-5555). If you accidentally dial 911, stay on the line. Tell the operator that you dialed 911 by mistake and that there is no emergency. UHCL police officers will still check by to ensure that there are no threats in the area.
UHCL police officers respond to all 911 hang-up calls as life-threatening emergencies.
The Houston area is prone to flooding and flash flooding during severe weather at any time of year. In May 2015 and April 2016, a series of severe thunderstorms resulted in several deaths and thousands of homes being flooded in the Houston area. Neither of these events were caused by a tropical storm or hurricane, and both occurred outside of hurricane season.
When a tropical storm or hurricane is imminent, evacuation orders may be issued. If you live in area under evacuation order, you should immediately prepare to LEAVE. Your streets may flood to a level where you are unable to leave and emergency services may be unable to reach you. Even if your home escapes damage, there may be no electricity, clean water or sewer services for weeks. It will be easier for you to evacuate if you begin to prepare now. Visit www.ready.gov/hurricanes for more information.
At all times of year, you should be monitoring the news for severe weather alerts. If a severe weather warning advises you to stay where you are, STAY. Even if you believe it is safe to travel outside, the waters can begin to rise quickly and without warning. Consider carrying with you at all times essential supplies and clean clothes in the event that severe weather may prevent you from returning home.
If you do find yourself outside in severe weather, do not drive around barricades or emergency vehicles. Do not drive onto water covered roadways, as you do not know for certain how deep the water is, and it may take only inches of water to float your vehicle off the roadway and into floodwaters. TURN AROUND. DON'T DROWN!
We have all seen the online advertisements that promise you can improve your life by using "one weird trick." While you may be disappointed after clicking on those ads, there is one easy rule you can follow whil checking your emails to keep your personal information safe!
It is common to receive fraudulent emails, purporting to be sent by your employer, school, service providers, banks, credit card companies, or any other institution. The email may instruct you to reply, or to click on a link. The senders of these emails share a common goal: to infect your device with malware, or to convince you to provide your personal information.
There is a simple solution to avoid becoming a victim: NEVER CLICK ON LINKS IN EMAILS.
Before logging into websites, make sure that the URL begins with https://, which indicated a secure connection.
Chrome, Firefox and Microsoft Edge will also show a padlock icon next to the URL that you may click on to view the site's security information.
Follow these tips for your banks, credit cards, and any other online services to protect your identity and your finances!
UHCL uses Everbridge to provide emergency alerts to employees and students. These messages are only used in exceptional events, and are not computer generated. They are sent by live UHCL Police Department personnel and provide you with a direct, real-time link to us. These emergency notifications may advise you that the University is closed due to bad weather or a power outage, and merely save you the inconvenience of an unnecessary trip to campus. In other situations, these messages may advise you how to protect yourself during a chemical spill, bomb threat, reports of gunshots, or any other active threat to our campus.
To receive this valuable information, you must have provided a good contact phone number and email address. To update your contact information, log into UHCL E-Services. From the Student Home page, click on the Personal Information button. Click on the Addresses tab on the left side of the screen. On the right side of the page, click the text Emergency Notification System - Contact Information.
Text message alerts will come from number 89361. The text message will end by saying, "Reply with YES to confirm receipt." Email messages from this system will come from email@example.com, but may show the username as a @uhcl.edu email address. The email will contain a link that says, Please click here to acknowledge receipt of this message. By replying to the text message or email, you will be flagged in the system as have responded, which lets us know that you are safe during an emergency event.
The most frequent reported and easily preventable crime on the UHCL campus is theft.
- Never leave property unattended, even to go to the restroom for a moment.
- Use a high-quality, heavy U-lock on your bicycle rather than a cable lock.
- Try to park in well-lit, heavily travelled areas. Lock your car doors.
- Hide any property left in your vehicle. When possible, leave valuables at home.
- Lock and close your dorrs while refueling your vehicle.
- Avoid using your cell phone in public, so you can focus your full attention on what's going on around you.
- Carpool or walk to classes with friends. Try to plan shopping trips together.
- When visiting the bank or ATM, put your cash away immediately. Take your receipt in case of an ATM error.
- Sign up with your bank and credit card companies to get text alerts every time your card is used.
It's very common for students to be targeted for fraud in online marketplaces and on university-related public pages.
Common scams involve the use of money transfers, in which the perpetrator pretends to be interested in purchasing something from you, "accidently" sends you too much money, and asks for a refund. In other cases, they claim that they need to send you money so that you can send the money to someone else.
UHCL PD has also received reports of extortion, such as:
- Calling and claiming to be with the IRS, Immigration, or police department, and advising that you or your family will be arrested if you do not send money.
- Making contact through social media and requesting intimate photos, then threatening to send the photos to your family and friends, or threatening to post the photos publicly. If you find yourself in this situation, remember that sending money does not guarantee that the perpetrator will delete your photos.
- Messaging you that they have your personal information and embarrassing secrets, and giving you a password that you have used previously or are currently using to convince you that they have your information.
Protect yourself by remembering:
No legitimate business or government office will ever ask you to send money through purchasing prepaid credit cards or gift cards. This is always a scam.
There is no legitimate reason for you to send money to a person who is buying something from you, or for a person to need you to send money to someone else. If you are having trouble, call your bank immediately. Never send money, even if the other person has already sent you money. Never provide your account information.
Anything that you send or post online can never be taken back.
Change your passwords frequently.
Social media platforms have become an integral part of online lives. Social networks are a great way to stay connected with others, but you should be wary about how much personal information you post.
- Privacy and security settings exist for a reason: Learn about and use the privacy and security settings on social networks.
- Once posted, always posted: Protect your reputation on social media networks. What you post online stays online.
- Your online reputation can be a good thing: Recent research also found that recruiters respond to a strong, positive personal brand online.
- Keep personal info personal: Be cautious about how much personal information you provide on social networking sites.
- Know and manage your friends: Social networks can be used for a variety of purposes.
- Be honest if you're uncomfortable: If a friend posts something about you that makes you uncomfortable or seems inappropriate, let them know.
- Know what action to take: If someone is harassing or threatening you, remove them from your friends list, block them and report them to the site administrator.
If you have ideas for slides, please feel free to share them with the UHCL Police Crime Prevention and Investigations Unit, Officer Hall, at firstname.lastname@example.org.