Public Safety Teams Up with NYPD to Promote “Street Smarts"- April 22, 2008

April 22, 2008

In an effort to secure the University's ranking by Reader's Digest as one of the nation's leading schools in providing students with a safe environment, Public Safety in conjunction with the New York Police Department (NYPD), held a "Street Smarts Seminar" in Columbia Law School's Jerome Greene Hall on April 22, 2008. The event featured a series of presentations on crime prevention tips and resources.  

Jim McShane, Associate Vice President for Columbia University Public Safety, provided the event's opening remarks and urged attendees to store the University's emergency number (212-854-5555) in their cell phones. Ken Finnegan, Public Safety's Director of Investigations and Technology Projects, supplemented this message by stressing the importance of getting good descriptions of criminals in order to help with identification. In addition, he advised both witnesses and victims to report incidents as they happen, since investigations are time sensitive.

Lt. Louis Zaneri, Commanding Officer at Manhattan North Grand Larceny Unit, shared insights into grand larceny-how it happens and how it can be avoided. Louis, self described as the "as it happens guy" detailed his experiences with tracking perpetrators.  Using video presentations, he demonstrated how people often do not notice when they are being pick pocketed. He also listed people's homes, work locations, shoe stores, and Starbucks as the most popular locations in which this crime occurs.

NYPD's Sgt. Bill Buckley continued this discussion by offering tips, such as keeping your head up and bag in front of you, while commuting by subway. He also recommended the use of the University's shuttle service and escorts during late hours. As Captain Thomas Dutkowsky, the Commanding Officer at the 26th Precinct, said, "We're there for you."

As the presenters noted, grand larceny may begin with the theft of a bag, but the situation can escalate into identity theft. You can avoid being a victim by shredding all documents listing your personal information. If you don't have a shredder, you can use the one located in Low Library. You can also attend "Shred Fest NYC," an event organized by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, which will be held on Sunday, April 27, 2008. For information on "Shred Fest," please visit

For more tips on being "street smart" go to

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Lt. Louis Zaneri, Commanding Officer at Manhattan North Grand Larceny Unit, used video presentations to demonstrate how people often do not notice when they are being pick-pocketed.