Crime rates prove campus safe

Spinnaker

Lehigh University freshman Jeanne Ann Clery was murdered on her Pennsylvania college campus in 1986.

Clery’s parents, unaware of her safety on campus, fought for years to make what is now known as the Clery Act a reality.

The act requires American colleges and universities to inform students of the crime statistics around campus.

In compliance with the act, the Department of Education released UNF’s 2007 crime statistics  Oct. 1.

There were 307 crimes reported in 2007 including 281 drug and alcohol violations, which would cause the threat of student-induced crime to drop less than one percent, according to the report.

The 2007 data showed an increase in robbery, burglary and drug law violations from 2006 and a decrease in aggravated assault, arson, motor vehicle theft and liquor law violations.

“I think what we see here traditionally and throughout history is that UNF has a very low crime rate … as compared to most public places,” UPD Chief Mark Foxworth said.

Robbery statistics increased because of the rising number of people on campus and the growth the university has experienced, Foxworth said.

“There’s no magical barrier around campus that keeps the bad guys out,” UPD officer Kathleen Halstead said.

Foxworth attributes crimes of opportunity – as well as carelessness on victims’ parts – as the cause of the increase in burglaries.

Halstead referred to the increase as preventable thefts and said it is UPD’s No. 1 problem.

And while the increase in drug law violations might worry some, the public should take into account the extra efforts made in 2007 to catch offenders, Foxworth said

“I know some of [the drug law violations] came from an undercover operation,” Foxworth said. “We could do better, but it’s not an out-of-control problem.”

Arson, aggravated assault, motor vehicle theft and the statistics that have consistently caused the most number of arrests and referrals each year – liquor law violations – are slowly being eradicated, Foxworth said.

“I think a lot of [the decrease in liquor law violations] has to do with more emphasis over the years being put on it,” he said.

The long process of compiling and recording these statistics begins with police officers individually sending their crime reports to the supervisor, who checks them off and sends them to the lieutenant.

The lieutenant passes the information to the records clerk, who logs the data by hand into the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office’s Copsmore/Police Track system.

“We’re kind of unique because our reporting program ties into the sheriff’s office program, so we use their program that actually counts the numbers for us, and then we actually go back and count them by hand,” Foxworth said.

After Halstead hand-counts the data for accuracy, she sends it to Student Affairs in March and then to the Department of Education in August.

Student Affairs uses the information for the annual parent handbook.

Under special circumstances, UPD uses the statistics for things like the Campus Safety Guide, presentations for staff and faculty, and timely warnings, which are normally released through e-mail updates like Student and Campus Update, she said.

Working with JSO reaps benefits for UPD because it’s allowed them to use information that would not have been available, Halstead said.

If, for example, she needed statistics comparing UNF with surrounding areas, she could call JSO for the data.

E-mail Rebecca McKinnon at [email protected]