The MU Police Department released the 2017 Annual Fire Safety and Security Report in a mass email on Sept. 27. The report is in compliance with the Clery Act, which requires all federally funded public universities to collect and publish information about crime on and near their campuses.
The report is required to include 110 security police statements and crime statistics from the past three years by Oct. 1, Lt. Kevin Rodgers of MUPD Support Services said.
The statistics break the crime reports into three different locations: on-campus, non-campus and public property. On-campus locations include the main MU campus, while non-campus includes property owned or controlled by MU that is not part of the main campus area.
Public property includes areas within the main MU campus that are public property, such as streets and sidewalks owned by the city of Columbia. For example, Ninth Street is within the main campus but is public property. Being arrested on public property holds the same consequences as at on- or non-campus locations.
Alcohol and drug violations
Between 2015 and 2016, the major shift in the number of offenses has involved drugs and alcohol. In 2015, there were 47 reports of on-campus liquor law violation arrests; in 2016 there were 158. In contrast, there were 142 cases of public liquor law violation arrests in 2015 and only 32 in 2016. In total, there were 196 arrests for liquor law violations in 2016.
A majority of these 196 total arrests were minor in possession, which means that someone under the age of 21 was caught either with alcohol in their possession or was visibly under the influence. This is classified as a misdemeanor.
Rodgers said a main reason for this difference was because in 2015 there were too many incoming freshmen to fully house them in residence dorms. To combat this, the university partnered up with a local apartment complex and had some freshmen technically living off-campus.
Because these apartment buildings were technically considered “public property,” Rodgers listed that as the reason behind the spike in 2015 arrests. In 2016, MU had fewer students living in dorms so the apartment complexes where students lived were not owned and controlled by the university. Therefore, there were fewer public property reports in 2016 than the year prior.
As for the reasoning behind the increase of on-campus reports, Rodgers said that it could just be due to simply having more reports of certain crimes over others.
“Some of that could also just be fluctuations in the number of incidents that occurred,” he said. “You know, [MU] didn’t have as many incidents occurring in public property and more in on-campus locations.”
There was also a change in arrests regarding drug law violations. There was a jump from 94 on-campus reports in 2015 to 164 in 2016. Public property reports saw a decrease from 68 to 55. Non-campus reports had one violation each year. This put the total reports at 163 in 2015 and 220 in 2016 — a difference of 57 reports.
Rodgers did not provide any reasoning behind the spike behind on-campus violations but said that the apartment complex situation could explain the decrease in public property numbers.
A majority of the people that a police officer comes in contact with while violating these laws are likely to end up arrested, Rodgers said. Sometimes, however, when a student is caught violating either liquor or drug laws, they aren’t arrested but instead “referred for disciplinary action,” according to the report.
In 2015, there were 1031 on-campus reports of referred liquor law violations, where the students were not arrested. That number dropped to 792 in 2016.
These typically occur in residence halls, Rodgers said. Of the on-campus reports, 770 were from student housing in 2016. If a residence hall adviser finds a student violating the drug and liquor laws, they are usually referred to the various programs that MU offers to assist students.
In addition to liquor and drug laws, MU also saw a significant decrease in hate crime reports from 2015 to 2016. In 2015, there were 11 reported hate crimes, a number that dropped to just one in 2016.
Of the 11 in 2015, eight were reported on-campus and three were non-campus. Six were classified as harassment and the categories of bias include gender identity, ethnicity and race.
The single report in 2016 was classified as an aggravated assault on public property and the category of bias was in relation to race.
Rodgers attributed this to the university having taken “great strides to work toward improving the campus environment.” He said that a number of different offices at MU have worked toward creating a better environment regarding inclusion and diversity.
Resources to combat the issues
The most common program students are referred to for assistance is the MU Wellness Resource Center, which provides various programs, including a brief course on alcohol screening and intervention for college students who are either referred for alcohol or marijuana violations. Students can also voluntarily attend these programs.
Kim Dude, founder of the Wellness Resource Center, said the different programs are meant to not only educate but also help students succeed.
“Our main goal [at the Wellness Resource Center] is to have students who are successful, safe and healthy,” she said.
The interventions can look different depending on the student. There might be presentations or one-on-one counseling, for example. In addition, every incoming freshman is required to take AlcoholEdu, on online course that is meant to educate and inform students of the negative consequences surrounding alcohol abuse.
Much of these interventions have led to successful outcomes, Dude said. In the past 10 years, the at-risk drinking rate for MU has decreased 22 percent, she said. To be considered “at risk,” a student must be referred by another student or faculty member and reported for “dangerous” behavior. This was from data collected through a survey of random MU students.
Rodgers said the MUPD doesn’t look only at this report when looking at crime at MU.
“[MUPD is] constantly keeping track of what’s happening on campus as far as certain locations that may be high crime areas and hot spots to put more resources toward,” he said.
These resources can range from higher patrols in certain locations of campus to promoting programs regarding crime prevention.
The main reason for the report, Rodgers said, is to keep the public informed. In addition, people can compare crime statistics from different years and decide for themselves if MU is improving or not in relation to certain crimes, he said.
“[The report is] designed for public transparency so that students and their parents can see what’s been going on at the University of Missouri for the last three years and what kind of policies are in place to provide for a safe campus,” he said.
Edited by Olivia Garrett | firstname.lastname@example.org