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Campus Crime Down, Off-Campus Sees Uptick

Drug and alcohol arrests dive after changes in education

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Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

Boston University released its Annual Security Report online yesterday, providing three years of statistics on reported crimes occurring on- and off-campus. The report showed a drop in reported on-campus crimes — from 138 in 2006 to 74 in 2007 — but the University experienced small increases in several areas, including overall reported off-campus crimes, reported off-campus burglaries, and forcible sex offenses.

The number of reported off-campus burglaries increased from 4 to 9, and the number of all reported off-campus crimes increased from 4 to 14. On-campus burglaries fell from 117 to 62. Forcible sex offenses on campus rose from three to seven, five of which were said to have taken place in the dormitories.

Peter Fiedler, the University’s vice president for administrative services, notes that the statistics reflect the number of incidents reported to the BUPD, not the number of prosecutable incidents that take place in a calendar year, and that they do not include the results of follow-up investigations. He attributed the overall drop in reported incidents to the wider use of the CompStat crime analysis system, which BU Police Chief Thomas Robbins implemented when he came to BU in 2006.

“With the implementation of the CompStat model comes an increased emphasis on crime reporting,” says Robbins. “In order to effect change and reduce crime, the police need to gather timely information on crime and related incidents from the community. There has been a big push to get the word out to the community to report incidents to the police department. Some of this uptick in crimes reported can probably be attributed to these efforts.”

Fiedler says the new system has enabled the University to better study crime statistics on all BU properties. “It has allowed us to review all kinds of crimes,” he says, “and to look at their frequency from week to week or month to month and to then reposition our police officers in the most effective manner.”

The University reported a decrease in liquor and drug violation arrests; the number of liquor law violation arrests dropped from 95 to 21, and the drug law violation arrests fell from 56 to 10 — a change that Fiedler attributes to the drug and alcohol task force established by David McBride, the director of Student Health Services, when he came to BU in 2006.

“Previously, drug and alcohol education was not as focused and closely monitored as it is now,” Fiedler says. “Now, if a student is transported for medical care due to inappropriate use of alcohol or drugs, he or she receives follow-up care from a Student Health Services behavioral medicine social worker. That’s probably why we’re seeing the drop from 2006.”

Looking ahead, Fiedler and Robbins identify bicycle and pedestrian safety, increased communication between students and the BUPD, and a reduction in on-campus larceny as priorities for the coming year. Fiedler is currently working with other administrators on educational initiatives for bicyclists and drivers, and Robbins plans to continue the town hall meetings he held with students last year.

“The area that I think most needs improvement is our ability to connect with the University as a whole for information sharing,” Robbins says. “The best thing we can do as a department is get a free information flow, so we can track crime patterns and trends within the University. I’d like people to feel comfortable communicating with department members when they see them on the street.”

The complete Annual Security Report can be downloaded from this page.

Jessica Ullian can be reached at jullian@bu.edu.

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