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Residents want more security

india Updated: Dec 22, 2007 03:17 IST

IANS
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As police search for the killers of two Indian students at a US university, a gated entry and exit, 24-hour security and a fence were suggested to beef up security at the residential complex where they were killed.

Residents of Edward Gay Apartments where Chandrasekhar Reddy Komma, 31, and Kiran Kumar Allam, 33 were found dead on December 13, made these suggestions to the residential life department of Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge.

"We definitely do not want the moon and (do not) expect to get lavish and luxurious facilities," says a six-page document cited by the Advocate, a local newspaper. "However, at the same time, we do not want our most basic requirements of safety and security to be ignored."

Officials with the LSU Police Department and the university's Emergency Operations Centre are reviewing the proposal and will forward their recommendations to LSU Chancellor Sean O'Keefe, according LSU spokesperson Kristine Calongne.

"We are drawing on law enforcement's experience to tell us what works, what doesn't and what should be a priority," Calongne said, adding that two of the proposal's suggestions have already been implemented.

Clips on apartment doors used to hold paper messages were placed elsewhere because the attached messages were blocking peepholes. And, the building will be wired for security cameras this week, she said.

The cameras are part of a two-year effort to add and update security cameras initially installed in 1997. More than 250 people live at Edward Gay Apartments, built between 1954 and 1967 and named for a former state senator.

A five-agency task force - made up of officials from the LSU Police Department, the Baton Rouge Police Department, the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office, Louisiana State Police and the US Marshal's Service - has offered a $5,000 reward for credible information about the killings instead of the usual $1,000.

The extra $4,000, however, will be paid only for information received through the Crime Stoppers tip line before midnight Christmas Eve, said Sergeant Don Kelly, a Baton Rouge police spokesman as tips poured in after the release of the sketches of two of the four black male suspects.

At that time, the reward will revert to $1,000. The deadline for the extra reward money is to prevent people who might hold on to information in hopes of getting more money, Kelly said.

"The information we need is out there," he said, adding that the task force has received a lot of tips but needs more to make an arrest. "There is no reason to sit on it."

That's not to say the task force is going to quit Christmas Day, Kelly added. "We are in this for the long haul," he said.

Since the shootings of Allam and Komma, about 30 Edward Gay residents have joined an Internet message board created to discuss the shootings and related issues, including security. Those discussions are what led to the security proposal submitted to university administrators.

The proposal also suggests that better lighting be installed, a visitors' parking area be built and the university bus route be rerouted closer to the complex. Currently, students have to walk to Kirby-Smith dormitory, which is almost a quarter of a mile away.

Larry Preston Williams Sr., a forensic security consultant and a former New Orleans Police Department detective cited by the Advocate, said the residents' proposal is well thought out.

Williams agreed the complex needed to be enclosed and have 24-hour security. He said he also would look into alarms for individual units at the complex and would require residents to lock their doors.

"When a property becomes known as an easy target, you get what happened to these students," he said.