UGA beefing up security with an added $7.3 million after nursing student killed on campus

The University of Georgia announced Tuesday that it has approved more than seven million dollars to improve campus security after a woman’s death on campus.

Laken Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student at Augusta University’s Athens campus, was killed on UGA’s campus while out for a morning run last week. Her body was found hours later.

The day after her death, Athens-Clarke County police announced Jose Ibarra had been arrested and charged with Riley’s murder. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed that Ibarra entered the country illegally in 2022.

We’re breaking down the security upgrades, LIVE on Channel 2 Action News at 5 p.m.

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Among the $7.3 million changes are a permanent 20% increase of the UGA Police Department’s budget to help recruit and retain top-notch officers.

The university will also be adding more security cameras, lighting upgrades and license plate readers.

The additions will focus on where students regularly congregate at night, like the libraries and Tate Student Center.

Lighting upgrades to the campus include more crosswalks near residence halls and 400 lights being converted to LEDs to make areas brighter at night.

They will also install security camera-blue light call boxes across the campus.

The RideSmart program, which the university offers through a partnership with Lyft, offers a 50% discount to UGA students. It will be extended to be in effect from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

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“The protection of our students, faculty and staff at the University of Georgia is always top of mind for me and our senior administration, and we are continually evaluating our safety programs,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “This morning, I met with campus law enforcement officials to learn their recommendations for further enhancements. Every one of their recommendations was approved.”

Over the last eight years, UGA has dedicated more than $16 million in funds to campus security measures.

Funding for the new security will come from state resources and contributions from the UGA Parents Leadership Council, the UGA Foundation, the President’s Venture Fund and the Georgia Athletic Association.

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