Our View | Message of LION Walk worth repeating

Representatives of State College police, Penn State and other organizations were out Thursday to welcome students back to town and to make them aware of services offered in town and on campus.

And to remind the young adults that safety begins with responsible behavior.

The Living In One Neighborhood Walk is an annual event. But if the police blotters from the early days of the fall semester are any indication, we might want to make the outreach event a more frequent affair.

Borough police said two sexual assaults were reported to them on move-in weekend, both on the morning of Friday Aug. 23.

That weekend generated 145 police calls — not unusually high compared to other semesters but too high nonetheless. Most of those incidents were alcohol-related.

Borough Police Chief Tom King said the LION Walk is designed to enhance “communication in a positive way with police.”

“One benefit is they know up front some of the rules and regulations,” King told reporter Jessica VanderKolk.

Knowing them and following them can be two different things, recent State College crime statistics show.

Here’s what else has been keeping the borough police busy in late August, according to their reports:

•  18 incidents of drug possession

•  11 incidents of criminal mischief and property damage

•  15 incidents of theft, including several involving stolen bicycles

•  5 drunken-driving incidents and 4 cases of public intoxication

•  5 incidents of harassment, two simple assaults, two burglaries and an aggravated assault

•  3 incidents of disorderly conduct involving fighting

•  a drug overdose and a missing-person report

•  numerous incidents of open-container and underage drinking violations, and too many disorderly conduct incidents involving noise to count.

It is unlikely that all of these incidents involve Penn State students. And King said crime has been declining locally since 2010.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that some people continue to put themselves and others at risk.

During Thursday’s LION Walk, one individual said he was uncomfortable having officers in uniform knocking on his door, even just to say hello and offer tips for being safe and following the borough’s ordinances.

Evidence suggests that folks living in State College need to see even more officers in uniform out and about.

We like the LION Walk initiative, including the distribution of emergency contact information.

We suspect the face-to-face interaction with Alpha Fire Company representatives and local government and university officials is beneficial for new or returning students.

Student leaders were involved, as were State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham and Penn State President Rodney Erickson.

“It opens the door so they know if you’re having problems with a roommate situation, or with a girlfriend or boyfriend and have harassment issues, we make sure they have access to all of those services we offer,” King said.

Courtney Hayden, the borough’s communications and projects coordinator, said one aim of the walk is to promote responsible behavior through awareness of how one person’s actions can affect others.

That is an important message in a town where a diverse collection of individuals must learn to co-exist.

We expect area police will be very busy next weekend, as the town fills further with folks heading to the first home football game of the season at Beaver Stadium.

Consider this editorial another plea, similar to steps taken Thursday evening by LION Walk participants, for responsible behavior to limit problems that detract from the great educational and cultural experiences that can be found here.