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Living in Philadelphia has many advantages: cultural diversity, historical areas, and night life attractions. However, like other big cities in the United States, it's important to be mindful of your surroundings. Being aware of and taking appropriate safety precautions can help you avoid problems.
View the topics below for more information on staying safe.
The Division of Public Safety (DPS)'s educates the Penn Community on how to be safe and secure on campus and in Philadelphia.
Division of Public Safety
4040 Chestnut St.
Tel: 215-898-7297 (general information)
Emergency phone numbers:
FREE Walking Escort Services
Public Safety Officers provide walking escorts to all campus locations. Officers are dispatched by radio and will accompany you from one campus location to another, to your parked vehicle, to a Penn Transit Stop or to an on-campus SEPTA regional transit stop.
Available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, between 30th to 43rd Streets and Market Street to Baltimore Avenue.
Escorts also extends west to 50th Street, and north/south from Spring Garden to Woodland Avenue, between 10 a.m. and 12 a.m. via the University’s partnership with the University District Ambassador Program.
How to Request a Walking Escort:
- Ask any Public Safety Officer on patrol or inside a building
- Call 215-898-WALK(9255) or 511 (from campus phone)
- Use one of the many building and blue-light ephones located on and off Penn’s Campus.
It is important to familiarize yourself with the Personal Safety Tips provided by the Penn Police and follow them meticulously and consistently. Topics include:
- UPennAlert Emergency Notification System
- Walking Escort Service: (215) 898-WALK (9255).
- Penn Transit Services: (215) 898-RIDE (7433)
- Blue Light Phones
- Penn Guardian
- Property Registration
- Safety Presentations
- Theft Prevention
- Safety Practices
Common crimes, such as robbery and theft, are unfortunate aspects of today's society. Certain situations cannot be prevented no matter what precautions are taken but there are a few things one can do to decrease the chances of becoming a victim of crime in the US.
When traveling, do not carry or display large amounts of money or jewelry. Instead, carry traveler's checks, redeemable for cash at most banks and stores, or use major credit cards, such as VISA, Mastercard, and American Express.
Be careful with personal belongings. Always keep money, jewelry, and valuable documents in your possession. Do not leave them in your luggage, in a storage locker, or in a locked car.
Do not go out alone at night. If you must go out alone at night it is better to take a taxi to and from your destination. Penn Transit provides safe transportation services to members of the Penn Community.
If approached by someone demanding your money, do not resist. It is better to lose your money than to risk your safety. In the case of such an incident, notify the police as soon as possible. Throughout the US, the emergency number for the police, as well as the fire department and emergency medical service, is 911.
Be careful when accepting help from strangers as they may not be trustworthy. Ask a police officer or other person in authority for information.
Beware of "con artists," individuals who offer you money or the opportunity to make money in exchange for some small service or assistance from you.
Identity theft has become a growing problem in the United States. It is important that you guard all personal identity documents such as your passport and visa, immigration documents, as well as credit card and bank account information. If you have a Social Security Number, you must also guard this information carefully. Before discarding unneeded documents, it is recommended that you shred any documents containing your personal information as well as any credit card solicitations you may receive in the mail. Finally, refrain from carrying your important personal documents unless absolutely necessary and keep these documents safely stored in your home or in a safe deposit box at a local bank.
After Normal Business Hours
In the event of a serious illness, injury, or death requiring assistance or support from a staff member at ISSS after normal business hours, contact:
Penn Division of Public Safety
4040 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104
Phone: (215) 573-3333 or 511 (from any campus phone)
DPS will contact the appropriate ISSS staff member for assistance.
During Normal Business Hours
In the event of an emergency during normal business hours, contact:
International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS)
University of Pennsylvania
3701 Chestnut St, Suite 1W
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-3199
Phone: (215) 898-4661
Many students and scholars choose not to carry their passports and instead carry their Penn Cards or obtain Pennsylvania State identification cards from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. However it is recommended that you carry at least a photocopy of your passport information page, US Entry Visa page, and I-94 card as all non-US citizens are required to carry proof of status at all times.
In the event you have been arrested or detained you have the right to notify your government:
If you so choose, the police must inform the appropriate consulate or embassy immediately.
Your consular officers have the right to visit you and arrange for your legal representation.
Many countries (i.e., China, Nigeria, and Singapore) require that the consul be notified when their nationals are confined or detained.
In these cases, you have no choice in the matter of whether the authorities notify your consulate; they must do so.
If you are accused of a crime, in most cases you should obtain legal advice from an attorney.
In addition, the American Civil Liberties Union is the US (self-appointed) "guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and the laws of the United States." Their site includes information about your individual rights if arrested.
International students and scholars often inquire about their rights with regards to attending protests/demonstrations in the United States. Even as a non-U.S. citizen, you may use your discretion to participate in protests as long as you are not posing any threat or harm to others (including property damage). If you are attending a protest that becomes violent or threatening in a way that could result in your arrest, you should leave the event, as an arrest could negatively impact your ability to remain in the U.S. or jeopardize your future academic/professional plans in the country.
In addition, please take note of the following guidance from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU):
If you are attending a protest or demonstration and feel that you are in danger, please contact the Penn Division of Public Safety (DPS) or the Philadelphia Police using the contact information listed above on this page.