Me and my shadow

So everyone’s favorite rodent, Punxsutawney Phil, has crawled out of his hole and decreed that winter’s end is only six weeks away—thank goodness. Hopefully as Phil crawled back into his access-controlled burrow for a rodent nap he checked to make sure no one, rodent or otherwise, was following behind him, or as we call it here at Case Western Reserve University, tailgating.

Tailgating refers to when you use your CWRU ID to swipe into an access controlled are such as a residence hall or lab and someone sidles in behind you as the door closes, without using their own ID. Many times this can be someone who was just hoping to get into a building without having to dig their own ID out, but sometimes it can be someone who has more sinister plans in mind. Over the years, CWRU PD has caught a number of folks in residence halls who were up to no good, and when asked how they got in the building the answer is something along the lines of “I followed behind some guy or girl.”

CWRU has spent a fair amount of money over the years to put an access control system in place to help secure university buildings, but any system is only as effective as people make it. We all want to be polite, but if you feel someone has gotten into a building behind you who may not belong there, just duck away and contact us at 216-368-3333, give us a location and description. We will take it from there—university policy states that students and staff must show their CWRU ID when asked by a member of the CWRU Police & Security Services Department. It is worth noting that university property is private property, and no one has a right to be on the property without a legitimate reason, especially if they aren’t students or staff.

So if you see someone in a residence hall who may look out of place, (in the past we have arrested 14 and 55-year-olds in residence halls, definitely a little outside the normal age range for residents) especially if they aren’t accompanied by a resident, give us a call and we’ll respond. So take a cue from Phil and be careful who you let into your burrow.

On the Beat is a weekly safety column written by Sergeant Jeffrey Daberko & Officer Mark (The Crossing Guard) Chavis of CWRU PD. Send feedback to this or other columns at