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Security measures, crime data shape positive perception of safety at UAB

  • January 17, 2020
Despite an extensive footprint, UAB remains among the lowest in incidents of reported sex-related offenses, robbery and burglary in comparison to other urban and non-urban universities with more than 16,000 students.
Written by: Ashley Silver
Media contact: Tyler Greer

Police2A review of 2016-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education shows the University of Alabama at Birmingham continues to perform as well as or better in safety statistics than urban and non-urban campuses across the country, especially compared to similar institutions with a hospital division.

UAB comprises 100-plus city blocks, with a combined employee/student population of more than 45,000 and annual patient visits to UAB Hospital exceeding 1.5 million. In addition, thousands of patrons of the arts, athletics and other special events visit the campus throughout the year.

Despite an extensive footprint, UAB remains among the lowest in incidents of reported sex-related offenses, robbery and burglary in comparison to other urban and non-urban universities with more than 16,000 students. UAB compares favorably to regional out-of-state peer universities including Duke, Georgetown, Howard, Stanford, UCLA and Vanderbilt.

READ: UAB Police chief named president of national law enforcement organization

Members of the campus community are taking notice of the new safety efforts. In a 2018 UAB Police and Public Safety campuswide survey, students reported a satisfaction increase from previous years. Eighty-four percent of the participants felt UAB Police and Public Safety is successfully protecting the UAB campus, including the hospital entities.

Information about many of UAB’s safety resources is available at The university has more than 3,800 security cameras, 550 emergency panic buttons and 520 doors across campus that require a card to access, plus 110 sworn officers on the fully accredited UAB Police force. UAB Emergency Management also regularly tests the campus emergency notification system, hosts full-scale and unit-level drills, and partners with surrounding neighborhoods and external law enforcement agencies. 

In fall 2018, there were new building security measures implemented to promote greater control over access to campus facilities and employ additional technologies to enhance security for students, faculty and staff. 

“It’s important to understand the opinions, perceptions and changing needs of those we protect in order to create the safest atmosphere for our UAB community to thrive,” said Anthony Purcell, UAB associate vice president and chief of Police.  

Even though the additional crime prevention resources have been widely effective, Purcell cites theft of personal property as the most common crime on college campuses, including UAB.

“We encourage people to always lock doors when they leave their residence hall, car or classroom,” Purcell said. “Lock personal property in the trunk of the car if you cannot take it with you. Do not leave such items as your purse, electronics, laptops or cellphones in view or on seats.”

DID YOU KNOW: UAB opened a new Police & Public Safety Headquarters in 2018

Police4While the institution already offers many services and resources to promote safety, it continues to add more. 

“Until our campus is completely crime-free, there is work to do, and we will continue our aggressive efforts to work with our constituents and maintain a safe environment for all,” said UAB President Ray L. Watts. “Our fully accredited Police Department, in cooperation with campus administrators and officials from areas of operation including Facilities, Emergency Management, Student Life and others — with the support of the University of Alabama System Office and Board of Trustees — are continually investing in a safe campus.”  

Purcell says that, while reported crime at UAB is relatively low, being attentive and watchful continues to be vitally important.

“Collaboration with the community is what keeps the campus safe,” he said. “Many crimes can be prevented with vigilance, planning and awareness. Our campus strives to continuously enhance safety through analysis, training and communication, as well as the latest technology.”

The free RAVE Guardian safety app, a GPS-enabled panic button and virtual escort that connects directly to UAB Police, was launched in 2015. Members of the UAB community can also take advantage of on-campus safety escortsBlazer Express, motorist assistance roadside service, and UAB Police education and safety programs.

Learn more at and