Annual report presents decreasing crime trends

Carly Matthews

The number of crimes at WKU has decreased compared to previous years, according to the the 2015 Annual Campus Security and Fire Report.

The report provides the crime statistics for the full calendar year and also explains campus police policies and programs.

Reports of burglaries and DUI arrests have dropped significantly in the last year. Arrests for drug abuse violations have also decreased from 146 reported arrests in 2012 to 95 in 2014. Arrests for alcohol intoxication violations have dropped from 92 violations in 2012 to 49 in 2014.

In comparison, The 2015 Annual Campus Security Report and Fire Safety Report for Calendar Year 2014 at Murray State University listed 12 burglaries each in 2012 and 2014 on its main campus. Additionally, the report listed two robberies on Murray State’s main campus in 2012 and zero robberies in 2014. Whereas burglary generally involves entering a building to commit crime, robbery involves violence or threat during the theft.

Murray State, unlike WKU, breaks its statistics down into campus-centric categories rather than just organizing them by year. In addition to listing burglaries and robberies on campus, Murray State also recorded how many of those occurred in residence halls: eight burglaries in 2012, seven burglaries in 2014 and zero robberies for either year. Murray State also breaks down its crime stats by non-campus and public locations. An “unfounded” category lists complaints law enforcers concluded were not crimes.

Campus police Captain Dominic Ossello said WKU programs such as the escort service and alert messaging service have helped decrease crimes.

He said a new safety app is in the works with the information technology division; however, a release date for the app has not yet been set.

Ossello said the decrease in WKU’s numbers, especially those involving alcohol, can be credited to WKU students’ prudent decisions.

“Students are making excellent choices; they’re choosing to not get behind the wheel after they’ve been drinking,” Ossello said. “These changes show that the alcohol awareness programs are working, the meetings with RAs and Greek organizations on campus are working and the information is getting out there.”

As alcohol awareness grows on campus, campus police plan to focus more on underreported crimes in the new year. These crimes include rape, assault and domestic violence.

Though the numbers are low, most cases of these crimes go underreported nationally, and Ossello believes they are also underreported on WKU’s campus.

There were 21 reported occurrences of simple assault in 2012 and five reported in 2014. Additionally, there were two reported occurrences of forcible rape in 2012 and zero reports in 2014.

“We’re trying to get information about these issues out to keep students safe. We’re doing everything we can to get those victims’ voices heard, and … we’re aware of what is going on,” Ossello said.

Campus police plan to continue working closely with the Counseling and Testing Center to address the issue of underreported crimes.