Crimes hold steady in 2018 campus safety report

The front office of the WKU Police Department on Aug. 26, 2019. The WKU Police Department has begun a complete transformation for the start of the fall 2019 semester. The renovations are meant to improve morale within the department, starting with cosmetic improvements.

Herald news staff

WKU’s rates of both crime and fire remain low and stable compared to 2017 and 2016, according to WKU’s 2018 Campus Security and Fire Report, which was released on Friday.

Liquor and drug law violations and arrest/citations are down from 2017, and the weapons possessions arrest/citations have also decreased. Dating violence and stalking are also down from 2017, and hate crimes reported on main campus are reported to be at zero currently.

“I would like to attribute that to the way our student and campus community are interacting with one another,” WKU Public Information Officer Tim Gray said.

Gray also said he feels the university is in a transitional stage, going from tolerance to acceptance with regards to race.

“Our level of patience will ultimately wane if all we are is tolerant,” Gray said, “But I think when we move to a place accepting another individual, then there’s a sense of ownership.”

According to the crime tables in the report, the rape reports from this year to last year are the same for main campus. Furthermore, there was one reported robbery on the main campus and 12 burglaries.

The report stated that various efforts are being made to help WKU police engage with the student body.

The Counseling Center, the Office of Student Conduct and the Title IX Coordinator are working together in order to educate WKU on matters including relationship violence, harassment and hazing, according to the report.

Additionally, the report states that staff trained in these areas will provide presentations to students, faculty and staff over how to report these incidents.

“Community policing is extremely important and near and dear for us,” Gray said. “That has become our identity. That has become the thing that we are striving each day to continue to improve.”

Gray said WKUPD is seeing an increase in the impact that outreach efforts are having on the community.

“One of the things that we’re seeing this year is that our outreach within the community is growing well beyond the walls of our campus,” Gray said. “It’s also growing within the walls of our campus in areas we’ve never been before.”

Gray said an example of the outreach that WKUPD is having on campus is a self-defense course taught by WKUPD for female student-athletes on campus.

“That’s a new area for our department,” Gray said. “We truly believe that if we know our students, if we know their concerns, if we know who they are, there’s gonna be a relationship that’s going to be inherently established.”

Additionally, the report outlined procedures in case of a fire, charts of crimes reported on campus, safety procedures and policies. Along with the details of these procedures, the safety reports contained a description of the WKU Rave emergency message notification system.

The design goal of WKU Rave is to assist in promoting a safe environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors, according to the report.

The system delivers the messages to the WKU community via text, email, social media and outdoor siren notification systems.

Also included in the report’s 79 pages was information from the WKU “Emergency Procedures Guide.” Among these procedures included instructions for what to do in the event of a fire.

With 30 fire alarms in education buildings and 29 in residential halls and fire drills conducted quarterly, the steps listed from the “Emergency Procedures Guide” instructed faculty and staff to pull the fire alarm, call the WKUPD and provide assistance to disabled individuals while not attempting to extinguish the fire.

After exiting the building, faculty and staff should account for all occupants they knew to be inside and not reenter.

Gray said the system for fire alarms is broken down “per building.”

The report also discusses Campus Security Authorities and the services they provide. The report states that CSAs are trained on their responsibilities and the correct way to report crimes. According to the report, current CSAs include employees of the WKUPD, Transportation Services, the Office of Student Conduct and advisors to student organizations, among others.

Each spring, the Annual Security Report is compiled by campus police. The report outlines “required safety and security information” as well as crimes that occurred over the past three years. The report states that the data is collect- ed through partnerships at WKU and throughout Warren County.

Jack Dobbs, Lily Burris and Abbey Nutter contributed to this story.