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Campus crime levels in decline

Total reported campus crime has reached its lowest levels in over a decade, according to annual crime data for 2010 released by the Department of Public Safety at the end of last week.

Most significantly, judicial referrals — cases that are sent to the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students — for on-campus alcohol offenses fell 73 percent in the last three years. Public Safety issued 33 judicial referrals related to alcohol in 2010, a substantial decline from the 120 issued in 2007. In all but two cases in 2010, the referrals resulted from an incident in a dormitory.

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The cause of the decline is unclear.

Public Safety Deputy Director for Operations Charles Davall said in an email that the primary driver of judicial referrals for alcohol is noise complaints. The number of noise complaints has also declined in the past several years. This decline, Davall said, could be attributed to increased patrols by residential college advisers as well as the ODUS party registration policy.

USG president Michael Yaroshefsky ’12 said in an email that the decline in the number of alcohol-related referrals could be “a sign that the collaboration between students and administrators to promote responsible alcohol consumption is making progress.”

“Nonetheless, we still have room to improve,” he said.

Meanwhile, arrests on alcohol charges declined from 10 in 2009 to zero in 2010.

This decline in alcohol-related offenses mirrors an overall decline in other crimes. Pursuant to federal law, the University compiles data based on nine specific crime categories ranging from murder to arson. These categories do not include alcohol and drug offenses.

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In 2000, the University reported a total of 102 incidents in these nine categories; in 2010, this number decreased to 53.

The number of burglaries has also declined to the lowest levels in over a decade, down to 30 from 82 in 2000. Davall attributed this decline to an increased visible presence of officers and other Public Safety efforts toward crime prevention.

“When there are reports of burglaries, we’ve been using them as an opportunity to educate students about basic tips to protect their property, such as keeping windows and doors locked and not propping open entryways to their dorms and their rooms,” Davall said.

There were, however, exceptions to the decline. Forcible sexual offenses — which include various degrees of sexual assault excluding incest and statutory rape — increased slightly from 11 in 2009 to 13 in 2010.

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The University previously reported nine forcible sexual offenses in 2009 but revised that number higher in the recent report, which Davall said could be attributed to the work of support programs on campus such as the Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising Resources and Education program.

“The slight increase in the number of sexual assaults reported could be related to the work that SHARE has been doing to make survivors of sexual assault feel comfortable reporting incidents to campus officials,” Davall said.

There was one aggravated assault in 2010, up from none in 2009. Arsons — which, in 2010, consisted of posters being set on fire — increased from three to five in the past year. Motor vehicle theft increased from two to four.

There were no reported instances of murder, negligent manslaughter, robbery or non-forcible sexual offenses.

Drug-related judicial referrals increased from 29 in 2009 to 37 in 2010. This number is below the peak of 47 in 2008. Arrests on drug charges declined from 10 in 2009 to four last year.

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