FAQ

The following is a list of questions University Police officers often receive. Don't see your question? Send it to universitypolice@northwestern.edu. This email address is monitored only during weekday business hours. Do not use it to report crimes, public safety concerns or emergencies.

Q: What is the role of the University Police department?

A: University Police has primary responsibility for developing and deploying services, programs and strategies for maintaining a reasonably safe campus. Specifically, University Police is responsible for crime prevention, law enforcement, parking control, emergency response, residence hall security, policing of special events, and for various other community services on both the Evanston and Chicago campuses. University Police patrol the campuses on foot, bicycle and vehicle.

University Police provides a full range of campus services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Some of these services include investigating reports of crimes, conducting follow-ups as necessary, and filing criminal charges or referring matters (as appropriate) to another department. Police operations are supported by a Communications Center, which is staffed by trained and certified dispatchers who answer calls for service, dispatch officers and other emergency services to incidents, operate closed circuit camera systems and monitor intrusion, fire and environmental alarms.

Q: Are the Northwestern University campuses reasonably safe?

A: Although Northwestern University works hard to ensure the safety of all individuals within our campus community, students and employees must take responsibility for their own personal safety and property security. The Evanston and Chicago campuses are not sanctuaries from crime. Realizing you could be a victim is the first step in self-protection. Community members are encouraged to explore our web site to access a variety of information on safetycrime awareness and prevention.

Q: Where does University Police derive its authority and do they have police powers?

A: University Police Officers derive their law enforcement authority from State of Illinois statutes (110 ILCS 1005 / 0.01 - 3.0) / Private College Act) and the trustees of Northwestern University. University Police Officers have the same full law enforcement powers and responsibilities under state law as municipal police officers and county sheriffs. They must complete a state approved police academy and firearms training.

University Police have police powers on Chicago and Evanston Northwestern campus property, public streets and property bordering the University and city areas in the vicinity of each campus per agreements with the respective cities. The Evanston and Chicago Police Departments have primary jurisdiction in all areas off campus, but Northwestern Police Officers can and do respond to student-related incidents that occur in close proximity to campus. If the Evanston or Chicago Police are contacted about criminal activity occurring off campus involving Northwestern students, Evanston or Chicago Police may notify Northwestern University Police. However, there is no official Evanston or Chicago Police Department policy requiring such notification. Students in these cases may be subject to arrest and University disciplinary procedures.

Q: How do I report a crime or emergency?

A: There are several ways in which victims or witnesses can report crimes. For crimes in progress or crimes that just occurred, or in an emergency, it is best to dial 911. When calling 911, stay on the line and try to remain calm with your information ready. In Evanston, 911 calls go to the Evanston Police Department. If fire and/or ambulance response is necessary on campus, those services are dispatched from the Evanston Police Department and University Police is notified. In most cases, calls for police services are transferred to Northwestern University Police for assignment. In Chicago, all 911 calls are answered by and responded to by the Chicago Police Department.

You may also use the "Blue Light" Police Emergency Phonesto report a crime, emergency or safety concern. People may also report a crime in person at the University Police station located at 211 E. Superior Street (Chicago campus) or 1819 Hinman Avenue (Evanston campus). University Police encourages accurate and prompt reporting of all crimes and emergencies.

Please note, email should not be used to report crimes and emergencies.

Q: What is a"Blue Light" Police Emergency Phone?

A: Community members are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Blue Light Police Emergency Phones located on the Chicago and Evanston campuses. They are housed in bright yellow boxes or black towers with a blue light overhead. Pushing the emergency phone button will connect you directly to a University Police Communication Center. Once the emergency phone button is pushed, the location of the activation is automatically transmitted to the University Police Communication Center. If a caller doesn’t speak or can’t, an officer is immediately dispatched to the phone site. See the Report a Crime web page for maps indicating the locations of "Blue Light" Police Emergency Phones on the Evanston and Chicago campuses.

Q: How do I report a non-emergency?

A: In non-emergency situations, where there is no immediate threat to personal safety or property, contact University Police on either campus by dialing 456 from any campus telephone. Non-emergencies may also be reported by calling 312-503-3456 (Chicago) or 847-491-3456 (Evanston). A telephone sticker or magnet, which provides University Police phone numbers, is available by calling the non-emergency telephone number.

Q: What is the Annual Security and Fire Safety Reports?

A: The Annual Security and Fire Safety Reports are updated and distributed annually for the Chicago / Evanston, Miami, Qatar and Washington, D.C. campuses in compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act). The Clery Act is the landmark federal law that requires colleges and universities to disclose information on security and safety policies and certain timely and annual information about crime on and around campus. The Chicago / Evanston Report includes a Fire Safety Report which is required for campuses which own or control campus student residential facilities.

By October 1 of each year, Northwestern University students and employees receive notice that includes a statement of the report’s availability, the exact electronic address at which the report is posted, a brief description of the report’s contents, and a statement that the institution will provide a paper copy of the report upon request to the Northwestern University Police Department.  Printed copies may be requested by calling Northwestern University Police at 847-491-3256. Prospective students and employees of the University are also informed of the Report’s availability.

Q: Does University Police allow anonymous reporting?

A: Northwestern University does not allow voluntary confidential reporting to the police department but permits victims or witnesses to report crimes to Campus Security Auyhorities (CSSAs) on an anonymous basis (and includes such anonymous reports in reported Annual Security Report crime totals) but encourages individuals who report crime to provide identifying information.

CSA’s are required to report Clery Act qualifying crimes in a timely manner to University Police. For more information on whether you qualify as a CSA and have related CSA crime reporting responsibilities, visit the Campus Security Authority web page. CSA's can report a qualifying Clery Act crime reported to them on the CSA Crime Report form.

Q: When I call the Police, what information should I have ready?

A: Make sure you are safe before calling. The information needed will vary based on what is being reported. The following is a list of questions that could be asked when you call for police service. Not all questions would be applicable to every call. The University Police Communication Center call taker may want to know:

  • What is occurring or has occurred
  • Location of occurrence
  • Your name and phone number (anonymous calls are accepted)
  • Your location, if different from location of occurrence
  • The time of occurrence
  • If there are any injuries
  • If anyone is intoxicated
  • If any weapons are involved
  • Number of people involved
  • Descriptions of people involved (i.e., gender, race, hair color, eye color, height, weight, scars/tattoos, clothing)
  • Description of any vehicles involved (i.e. license plate, color, make, model, year)
  • Direction of travel of anyone leaving the scene on foot or in a vehicle
  • If there are any witnesses, and if so, are they still on the scene

Q: What crime occurs most often on campus?

A: Minor theft of property occurs most often. Any property left unattended and/or visible to the general public is vulnerable. In many cases these crimes can be prevented through simple crime prevention measures.

Q: What is SafeRide?

A: The Evanston campus SafeRide service is provided to members of the Northwestern community and is available from 7:00 pm to 3:00 am seven days a week during the academic year when classes are in session. When Daylight Saving Time is not in effect SafeRide begins service at 8:00 pm.

SafeRide drivers provide rides to and from destinations in and around the Evanston campus. SafeRide is staffed by student employees and administrators. SafeRide reserves the right to reduce or suspend operations during inclement weather or during other circumstances that may place their employees in danger. This service is available by calling (847) 491-7000. For additional information, visit the SafeRide web site.

The Chicago campus SafeRide shuttle, with extended train shuttle service, operates from 6:40 p.m. to 10:09 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding University holidays. The SafeRide shuttle provides service from campus to public transportations stops on Michigan Avenue and the CTA el-trains. A ticket or monthly pass is required to ride this shuttle to the train stations. The shuttle schedule can be viewed at Parking and Transportation Services web site.  Call (312) 503-8129 for additional information or e-mail shuttle@northwestern.edu.

Q: Does University Police offer safety escorts?

A: University community members may contact University Police at 847-491-3456 (Evanston campus) or 312-503-3456 (Chicago campus) to request safety escorts on foot or with a bike patrol officer to on-campus locations. Squad car escorts are also available on the Chicago campus. Please note, there may be a waiting period for escorts as the result of concurrent Police related activities.

Q: What is Rape Aggression Defense?

A: Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D.) is a fundamental hands-on approach of informing women on how to defend themselves in the event of an attack. Rape Aggression Defense Training is:

  • Practical Self Defense Tactics
  • Easy To Learn and Employ
  • Awareness and Avoidance
  • Risk Reduction Strategies
  • Certified Instruction and Free Lifetime Return - Practice Policy

University Police R.A.D. classes are free, however you must register to participate. For specific information on this program, visit the R.A.D. web page or contact the program coordinator Lieutenant Ken Jones at 847-467-2069.

Q: How do I compliment or complain about a Northwestern University Police Officer or other UP employee?

A: The University Police Department is committed to handling citizen complaints in a fair and impartial manner. The University Police Department welcomes compliments or complaints about the department’s service or its personnel. Your comments contribute to the many efforts the department undertakes to maintain an open channel of communication between the department and the campus community to maintain the highest standards possible.

The University Police Department is committed to thoroughly and objectively investigating all complaints given to the department by the community. Valid complaints help us protect the community from possible misconduct. At the same time, a thorough and objective investigation protects employees who perform their duties properly. For additional information, visit the University Police Compliments & Complaints web site or call University Police and ask to speak to the on-duty supervisor.

Q: How do I request a presentation by a Police Officer?

A: You can request a crime prevention presentation tailored to meet your needs by calling or emailing Deputy Chief Daniel McAleer at 847-491-3256 / 
d-mcaleer@northwestern.edu.

Q: Are there any rules or regulations about weapons on University grounds?

A: Possession or use of firearms, weapons, explosives, or dangerous substances and devices are prohibited on campus (except for weapons carried by sworn Police personnel or other authorized security officers). This includes: ammunition, BB guns; air rifles, pellet or paint guns, slingshots; knives; weapons of any description, explosives; firecrackers, fireworks, dangerous substances; or any other object or substance designed to inflict a wound or cause injury; and imitations, props, or replicas of any of the previous items.

The possession or use, for any reason (including class OR STUDENT ORGANIZATION productions or projects), of any imitation, prop, or replica weapon on university property is prohibited unless authorized in advance by University Police.

To submit a request for authorization to possess or use prop or replica weapons on university property go to http://tinyurl.com/propweapons. All requests must be received by University Police no later than 14 days prior to the scheduled activity to receive consideration. For further information contact Deputy Chief McAleer at d-mcaleer@northwestern.edu.

Q: What types of fingerprinting services does the University Police offer?

A: University Police provides applicant /background fingerprinting services for all Northwestern University students and employees free of charge. Call University Police at 312-503-3456 (Chicago campus) or 847-491-3456 (Evanston campus) to schedule an appointment.

Q: Where can I register my bike and what is the best way to protect my bike?

A: Northwestern community members may register their bicycles in person at the Evanston or Chicago University Police stations or by submitting an online form. For on-line registrations, a bicycle registration sticker will be mailed to the address provided on the registration. If you have registration questions, please call 847-491-3319 (Evanston) or 312-503-3456 (Chicago). There are no fees for bike registrations.

Too often bike owners place cheap cable locks on very expensive bicycles. Bicycle thieves are looking for easy targets. Cheap locks or improperly secured locks are an open invitation to thieves. If you are going to bring an expensive bike to campus, spend a few extra dollars on a quality U-shape locking device and learn how to properly secure your bike with it. University Police sells Kryptonite U-shape locks at cost. The few extra seconds you spend securing your bike properly will go a long way toward discouraging thieves.

Q: Who is responsible for parking on the Evanston and Chicago campuses?

A: Parking Services, a division within the University Police Department, is responsible for parking on the Evanston campus. Transportation & Parking Services, a division within the University Services Department, is responsible for parking on the Chicago campus.

Q: If I lock my keys in my vehicle or my vehicle won’t start, what can I do?

A: University Police also offers vehicle entry to persons that lock their keys in the car. If University Police is unable to gain access to your vehicle, we can contact a lock out service at your request. Note: Neither Northwestern University or the University Police are responsible for any damage that may occur during the lockout process. University Police vehicles are not permitted to provide jump starts however jump start cables can be checked out from the Chicago and Evanston University Police Communication Centers with a valid University ID or Drivers’ license.