Every alley, every dark corner, every turn, every stranger. These by-products of the night have the possibility of making any seemingly nonchalant trip into town something much different. Staying vigilant is key. Traversing downtown Reno, day or night, an error of caution along with following tips and advice from members of law enforcement and self-defense instructors can be implemented to ensure the safety of the student body.  

“For any of our students, downtown or otherwise, the most important thing they can do is remain alert,” said Robyn Wasser, UNRPD officer and an instructor of Girls on Guard—a self-defense program offered at the university. “Paying attention to one’s surroundings is the easiest thing to do but most people fail to really do it.”

Traveling with groups, in well lit areas, carrying a noisemaker and flashlight, are all some other tips Deputy Chief Eric James of the UNRPD also suggested. Deputy Chief James also stressed the importance of minding your surroundings and trusting your instinct. 

“I would tell students to take responsibility for their own safety,” said Officer Wasser. “Look around you, be smart, if it feels unsafe, it probably is, these are basic safety principles that many people fail to use on a regular basis. I would advise them to use the resources available to them such as campus escort, student cadets, and the buses provided.”

Deputy Chief James and Officer Wasser assured the legality of pepper spray on UNR property, for those students who may be traversing back and forth from campus and downtown, such as students living at the Wolf Pack Tower. However, both stressed the importance of being trained to use it.

“[…] Pepper spray is good if you know how to use it,” said Officer Wasser. “[…] is only as helpful as it is accessible […] [if there’s] a safety lock on it, do you know how to quickly unlock it? I always remind my students nothing they own is as important as their life, if someone…wants your purse, your backpack, your wallet, your laptop […] is it worth your life? […] those are just things, they can be replaced, you cannot, don’t further jeopardize your safety over a piece of property.”

Deputy Chief James mentioned when asked about students who may be afraid to reach out to law enforcement due to potential legal trouble or issues—in turn compromising their safety. This particular law which could be vital to student safety. 

 “Nevada has what is referred to as a medical amnesty law. So, any person who calls 911 for someone who suffered a drug or alcohol emergency, will not be prosecuted, nor will the person who is having the medical emergency.” said Deputy Chief James. 

Deputy Chief James stated the best way to explain this law is that it was created to protect both the caller and the person in jeopardy without the fear of criminal charges being brought against them in a situation where they might be intoxicated. 

On the possibility of a conflict arising suggests to step away from the situation, get help, and to attempt to read a situation before one might occur Deputy Chief James suggested.

When asked the best advice from someone with no self-defense training Officer Wasser said, “Find something, try something, get some training. Even if it’s looking something up on the internet, that’s a start.”

Help brighten up those dark alleys and corners with your knowable, vigilance and the tools at the disposal of the student body at UNR to ensure our safety.