Security in an open environment

Protective Services seeks to establish and maintain a balance between openness and security. A safe and secure environment is necessary in order to successfully conduct academic and social pursuits at the School of Medicine. The department’s utmost concern, however, is the welfare of every member of the campus community. Emphasis is placed on providing maximum freedom from outside interference. With this freedom comes the responsibility to actively participate in protecting the overall safety and security of the campus. A cooperative effort is the only way for everyone to be truly safe. Large numbers of people visit the Medical Center campus every day. Unfortunately, not every person who comes to our campus does so for legitimate reasons. Campus personnel must take the initiative to secure their own belongings, as well as school property and facilities.

Every member of the campus community who witnesses a crime, is the victim of a crime, or who has information regarding a crime on campus should immediately make a report to Protective Services by dialing 314-362-4357(HELP).

A crime is officially reported when a Protective Services Officer investigating an incident determines that an incident has occurred on campus and is, in fact, a crime, or the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department notifies Protective Services it has documented a report of a criminal offense that occurred on campus.


Police and Community Liaison (Off-Campus Crime)

The Washington University Medical Center and the School of Medicine are located in the Fifth District of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Contact is maintained with the Metropolitan Police so that Protective Services can share and receive information about crimes committed in the area. Additional sources of information include the Central West End Neighborhood Security Initiative and Medical Center Redevelopment Corporation. Mutual cooperation is always stressed. Protective Services personnel also participate in organizations that focus on crime prevention.


Security Tips

Security Inside Buildings

Residence Halls
  • Lock all doors, even if you are leaving only for a short time.
  • Make certain to lock your door before you go to sleep.
  • Never prop open any locking door.
  • Avoid leaving notes on your door saying that you are out.
  • If you use voice mail, do not provide your name or phone number in the outgoing message.
  • If you see any suspicious activity, dial 314-362-4357.
Campus Offices and Labs
  • Be sure doors are locked whenever you leave an unattended office or lab.
  • Never leave doors propped open or leave keys in an unlocked cabinet or desk drawer. Lock cabinets and drawers when not in use.
  • It is not advisable to tape extra keys under desk drawers or in file cabinets.
  • Don’t unlock entire floors or department areas if only a single door or work area will provide the necessary access.
  • Secure computer equipment, balance scales, and other small portable items to a fixed surface using manufacturer’s security devices or cable locks available from Protective Services.
  • When leaving your office or lab for the day, make sure all windows are closed and locked, all valuables and confidential materials are locked up, and all desks, files, and doors are locked.
  • Secure purses, wallets, backpacks, briefcases, or electronic devices in locked cabinets, closets, or other safe areas.
  • Report any suspicious activity on campus by dialing 314-362-4357.

Security Outside Buildings

Street Crime
  • Try to avoid walking alone, particularly during hours of darkness. If you must walk alone at night, use well-lit streets with as much vehicle traffic as possible and walk near the curb.
  • Avoid carrying a purse and keep a wallet in your pocket instead. Keeping money separate will allow you to hand over your cash without sacrificing your credit cards, identification, and personal papers/cards. If you must carry a purse, clutch it tightly under your arm rather than loosely hung from your shoulder. Use a shoulder strap across your body.
  • Scan the area ahead as you walk. If you observe suspicious person or vehicles, change direction and walk to a place of safety.
  • If you are walking when streets are relatively empty, make eye contact with everyone you pass and keep yourself at arm’s length away from them.
  • Walk briskly and confidently.
  • After dark, be aware of your surroundings if passing through public parks, vacant lots, and areas with excessive trees and bushes.
  • While waiting for a bus or MetroLink train, if the station is deserted, wait in a well-lit section with your back against the wall, if possible.
  • Always pay attention to your surroundings.
Driving/Parking Lots and Garages
  • Have your keys ready when you approach your vehicle.
  • Check before you get in to make sure no one is hiding beneath or inside the vehicle.
  • Enter your vehicle, start the engine, secure the doors, latch your seat belt, and drive away.
  • Drive on well traveled streets and never pick up hitchhikers. Don’t hitchhike yourself.
  • Keep your car in gear while stopped, with all the windows up and doors locked.
  • When you park, use a well-lighted, designated parking area.
  • If you carry valuables in your car—such as GPS devices, cell phones, laptop or tablet computers, or loose change—keep them out of sight in the trunk.
  • Keep cell phones charged and contacts up-to-date.
  • If you are deliberately forced to stop your vehicle, keep the doors locked, turn on the lights, and sound the horn. Use your cell phone to call for help.
  • Notify Protective Services, in advance, if you have arranged for windshield/glass replacement, mechanical service, or towing, while you are at work and the vehicle is parked on a WUSM lot or in a WUSM garage.
Off-Campus
  • Keep your doors and windows closed and locked.
  • Contact your local police department for recommendations regarding lock purchase and replacement.
  • Always identify visitors before letting them in.
  • Request that service people show identification before you open the door.
  • Use a timer to turn lights and a radio on and off, if you will arrive home late or will be away for a period of time.
  • Keep police and emergency numbers near your telephone. 911 is the default emergency number for most areas.
  • Do not lend your keys to service people or anyone you do not know and trust.
  • If a stranger asks to use your telephone or cell phone, do not open the door. Offer to call for them.
  • Do not give credit card numbers to any stranger or to anyone over the phone unless you are certain to whom you are speaking.
  • Report any unusual or suspicious activity near your home to the local police.

Identity Theft
  • Exercise caution when sharing personal information over the internet, the telephone, or in person.
  • Do not put your credit card number on the internet unless it is encrypted on a secured site.
  • Do not put your telephone number, social security number, or telephone number on checks or your credit receipts.
  • When you order new credit cards in the mail, watch the calendar to make sure you get the card within the appropriate time. Destroy expired credit cards.
  • Cancel all credit cards you have not used in the last six months.
  • Shred all documents, including pre-approved credit applications received in your name, insurance forms, bank checks, statements, and other financial information you are discarding.
  • Order your credit report at least twice a year from all three major sources: Equifax 1-800-525-6285; Experian 1-888-397-3742; and TransUnion 1-800-680-7289. Correct all mistakes on your credit report in writing, return receipt requested.
  • If victimized, notify the financial institutions where your accounts may have been tampered with. Closing accounts may be necessary.
  • Place a watch on all checks coming through your account to ensure only checks you wrote are paid. Check online accounts regularly to insure proper status.
  • Change your ATM Card and PIN number.
  • Notify all of your credit-card companies.
  • Contact Telecheck (1-800-733-3400), a nationwide company, to request an alert to all merchants not to accept checks from your account until the fraud is resolved.
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission, 1-877-ID-THEFT (877-438-4338), to place a nationwide alert on all of your accounts. Log onto http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/ for an ID Theft Affidavit that is accepted by all three major credit bureaus.
  • Write to the Direct Marketing Association, Mail Preference Service, P. O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735, to get your name removed from direct-mail lists.
Credit Cards, Debit Cards, and Personal Checks
  • Keep credit/debit cards, personal checks, and cash in a safe place.
  • Shop with credit/debit cards or checks when possible. They are less likely to be stolen than cash.
  • Keep a record of all credit/debit card account numbers and telephone numbers associated with these accounts.
  • Photocopy both front and back of all your credit/debit cards and keep the copies in a secure location.
  • Do not keep Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) in any location that may be associated with the cards they activate.
  • Do not give account numbers over the telephone, by mail, or online, unless you are certain of the company’s service and credibility.
  • Always keep credit/debit card receipts.
  • Report the loss or theft of credit/debit cards immediately to the issuing authority.
  • File a police report in the jurisdiction where the card was stolen. This proves to credit providers that you are diligent and is the first step toward an investigation.
  • Call the three national credit report organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and social security number. The alert means that any company that checks your credit will know that your card was stolen and they much contact you to authorize new credit. Their phone numbers are: Equifax 1-800-525-6285; Experian 1-888-397-3742; TransUnion 1-800-680-7289; or contact them through their websites.
  • The Social Security Administration also has a fraud line at 1-800-269-0271 or on-line at www.socialsecurity.gov/fraudreport.
ATM Safety
  • Be alert at all times when using any ATM (walk-up, drive-up, inside, or outside).  After completing your transaction, leave immediately.
  • Avoid using an ATM in an isolated or poorly-lighted area after dark.
  • Be accompanied by another person when using an ATM after dark.
  • Refrain from displaying cash. Place cash in your pocket or purse as soon as the transaction is completed.
  • If you notice anyone or anything that seems suspicious when using or considering the use of an ATM, don’t make the transaction; use another ATM or return at a later time.
  • Report all crimes to the operator of the ATM or to local law enforcement officials.
  • Protect your ATM or debit card as you would cash or a credit card, and never let anyone else use it. Do not share the PIN associated with your card.
  • Memorize your PIN. Do not write it on your card or leave it in your wallet.

Safety Tips