Sept. 26, 2007
UI Police NITE RIDE program offers women free, safe rides home
Beginning this week women can request a free, safe ride home Friday and Saturday nights through a pilot program announced today by the University of Iowa Police.
Under the NITE RIDE program, police will use a dark blue, 15-passenger UI van to transport women from a designated pickup point at the corner of Washington and Clinton streets in downtown Iowa City to their dorms or apartments within the following boundaries: Grand Avenue to the west, Summit Street to the east, Highway 6 to the south, and Foster Road to the north (see map at http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2007/september/images/092607nite-ride-map.gif).
"Our goal is to provide women with a reliable and safe ride home," said UI Assistant Vice President and Director of UI Police Charles Green. "If this is a service women would like to see continued, we encourage them to use it as necessary."
To arrange for a pickup, women should call 384-1111, the cell number for the van driver. The driver will inform the caller of his or her current location and the estimated time of arrival at the designated pickup point.
The van will be driven by a fully uniformed, full-time Department of Public Safety guard from 11 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday, and 11 p.m. Saturday until 3 a.m. Sunday. The van will be clearly marked with five magnetic signs saying NITE RIDE and bearing the UI Police patch and the phone number.
While the guards driving the van will not be police officers, they will be able to communicate directly with UI police officers in case of an emergency.
The service will run until December, when it will be evaluated. The service will not be offered during the Thanksgiving and December holiday breaks.
Co-sponsored by the UI Student Government, the service was devised in
response to a growing number of assaults in the Iowa City area over the past
year. The program will be discussed at a public forum tonight (Wednesday,
Sept. 26) at the Englert Theatre, where university, Iowa City and Johnson
County officials will also discuss the investigation into the assaults and
offer citizens advice on improving personal and community safety. More
information about the forum is available at
UISG President Barrett Anderson said the student government is supporting the NITE RIDE program through endorsement, publicity and, potentially, funding.
"The outcry for some kind of late-night transportation system has been heard and we are pleased to work with the UI Police Department on implementing just such a program at this critical time," Anderson said. "We are anxious and excited to see it in action."
The service is only available to women under the pilot project, since all of the victims who recently reported assaults have been women and because police want to avoid the chance of inadvertently transporting a potential assailant. All of the suspects in the assaults have been described as men.
Drivers reserve the right to refuse service. Students who are too intoxicated to stand or walk on their own, and/or who are vomiting will not be allowed on the van, and disorderly conduct will not be tolerated.
Since August 2006, there have been 35 reports of assaults or "forcible fondlings" against women in Iowa City, according to Green.
Police are seeking several suspects in connection with the assaults, including one man who fits the description given by a majority of the victims. Many of the victims are UI students. Composite drawings of two suspects are available on the Iowa City Police Department Web site at http://www.icgov.org/police/.
STORY SOURCE: University Relations, 101 Jessup Hall, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1000
MEDIA CONTACTS: Brad Allison, UI Police, 319-335-5043; Linda Kettner, University News Services, 319-384-0030 (office), 319-621-7945 (cell) or firstname.lastname@example.org