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After a difficult summer, new focus on security at Howard

Saturday - 8/17/2013, 4:03pm  ET

WASHINGTON, DC - Howard University students will begin classes for the 2013 fall semester with new security measures in place, in light of two high-profile crimes reported on and near the campus over the summer months.

Security guards will patrol dorms 24 hours a day and a second overnight shuttle will operate at fixed stops to transport students to and from campus, among other measures.

"We're working as hard as we can to educate our students, to put the technology measures in place, and to work with our partnership with Metropolitan Police Department," says Howard University Police Chief LeRoy James.

He spoke with WTOP Saturday afternoon in front of Harriet Tubman Quadrangle, one of the university's residence halls, where incoming freshman moved into their dorms.

Students spoke out about safety concerns after the July 4th shooting of student Omar Sykes during a robbery attempt in the 700 block of Fairmont Street NW, which is less than a mile from the university campus.

"I want to see more initiative for campus police to protect the students, because it seems that when anything serious happens they're either late, or they don't do everything they're supposed to do," Justin Miles, a a friend of Sykes, told WTOP a day after Sykes was killed.

On July 22, a woman reported to Metropolitan Police that she was raped on campus near the School of Business.

"I think the campus could do a better job with security," Howard University senior Zuri Masud told WJLA after that incident.

Both the Sykes shooting and the reported rape are still under investigation by MPD.

Howard University crime stats show that campus crime from January through June of 2013 is down more than 16 percent compared to the same time period last year.

James says they've boosted patrol numbers, hiring an additional 15 officers the summer and expecting to hire another five in the fall.

But, he says, for the measures to work, it's a shared responsibility.

"What it takes it partnership with our students, our officers, our faculty and our staff; everybody has to pitch in," James says.

While moving her daughter Carice into her freshman dorm Saturday, Danice Lindo expressed her confidence in the school.

"We've actually met staff while we were waiting in line, and they were just as friendly as can be. So, I think that the support system is definitely here for {students}," Danice Lindo says.

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