The University of Arizona 2018 Campus Safety, Security and Fire Report, released Monday Oct. 1, showed a significant increase in the reported number of burglaries and a large decrease in the number of drug and alcohol related offenses.
Additionally, a 2017 homicide on UA property caused the number of murders in the report to rise from its usual zero.
The report was presented during a press conference, with new data from 2017 being compared to data from previous reports from 2015 and 2016.
“This year what I think what we're seeing is pretty consistent with the last several years in the areas of crimes against people,” said the University of Arizona Police Department Chief Brian Seastone.
In August 2017 a fight between a motorist and a pedestrian escalated to murder when the motorist shot the pedestrian, who was later declared dead on UA property, approximately a mile from campus.
“This year what you’ll see in the statistics is something that is very infrequent, and we’re very fortunate for that on our campus, and that is a homicide … Because it occurred on our campus property we carry that statistic,” Seastone said.
Burglaries on campus rose significantly, following a trend starting in least 2015, with 33 reported cases in 2015, 45 reported cases in 2016 and 64 in 2017.
UAPD did not have a strong theory to explain this rise. According to Seastone, one possible idea is that there were simply more opportunities to commit crimes, such as leaving a bag unattended in the library or not locking a bike properly.
“I wish I could say we have a reason for that [increase] except for opportunity,” Seastone said. “Sometimes people take great liberty with that opportunity.”
Dean of Students Kendal Washington White elaborated on the plan to address this increase in burglaries.
“Chief Seastone and I will revisit the locations where the data shows an uptick in reports of burglaries, and target those areas for informed, proactive and prevention-related education for the campus community,” she said in an email interview. “If there are physical/structural issues that may be the cause of the burglaries, we can work with our campus partners to determine how best to address the issue.”
The number of reported robberies also increased slightly from three cases in 2016 to four cases in 2017.
The largest decrease in reports was seen in drug and alcohol offenses.
Liquor law violations that resulted in disciplinary actions, as opposed to arrests, fell from 763 reported cases in 2016 to 472 reported cases in 2017.
This figure puts the 2017 number of violations closer to the 2015 figure of 457 reported violations.
A general increase in awareness may also play a factor in explaining this dramatic decline.
“I think that students are getting more education in the K-12 system as well, particularly in high school,” Washington White said.
Liquor law arrests also experienced a decrease in reported cases, falling from 168 in 2016 to 155 in 2017.
For the past three years the number of reported drug offenses has continued to decrease.
Drug law violations that resulted in disciplinary actions decreased from 130 cases in 2015 to 123 cases in 2016 to 102 cases in 2017.
Likewise, drug law arrests fell from 125 reported incidents in 2015 to 119 incidents in 2016 to 108 cases in 2017.
Seastone and Washington White cited the UA Diversion Program, which allows students to go through a voluntary educational program in order to have a misdemeanor charge dismissed and avoid a criminal record, as a likely key contributor to the overall decline in reported drug and alcohol related incidents.
“Our alcohol numbers in particular have dropped significantly, and I think that’s because of the proactive approach we take with students prior to their coming to campus and the continuation of that education while they’re here,” Washington White said.
Crimes involving sex offenses either decreased or remained the same in the number of reported incidents from 2016 to 2016.
Reported incidents of rape decreased from 24 cases in 2016 to 22 cases in 2017. However, the actual number of rape cases might be higher because many incidents go unreported.
“It is common knowledge that sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes within most communities, including on college campuses,” Washington White said in an email interview. “The University of Arizona is no different. Although the optimist in me wishes that we had a decrease in sexual assault; however, my experience informs me that students may not report these incidents.”
Incidents of fondling in 2017 remained the same as 2016, with three reported cases each year. However that number is significantly lower than it was in 2015 when the number of reported cases was 11.
Statutory rape and incest remained steady at zero reported cases, which matched the numbers from 2015 and 2016.
Additionally, the number of reported cases dating violence decreases significantly from 10 incidents in 2016 to two incidents in 2017.
“I do believe that the work of several departments, including LGBTQ Affairs, Women’s and Gender Resource Center, and Campus Health initiatives related to dating violence are having an impact within the University community,” Washington White said in an email interview. “The more voices we have on campus and the trust students have in peer educators, faculty and staff fosters an environment where students are comfortable with disclosing dating violence.”
Motor vehicle theft also saw a decrease from 18 reported cases in 2016 to 15 in 2017.
Multiple categories of crime did see increases between 2016 and 2017.
Aggravated assault reports increased from seven cases in 2016 to 10 cases in 2017.
Weapons laws arrests increased to two reported incidents in 2017, up from no reported incidents in 2016 and one incident in 2015.
One arrest was made for the possession of a firearm, while the other was made for the possession of a machete.
Incidents of hate crimes on campus increased from four cases in 2016 to five cases in 2017. These crimes included one assault, two incidents of intimidation and two incidents of vandalism.
Reported incidents of stalking increased from two cases in 2016 to four cases in 2017. However, both figures are a decrease from the 13 reported cases in 2015.
UAPD and the Dean of Students Office publish a Campus Safety, Security and Fire report each year in accordance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Crime Statistics Act, which mandates that all colleges that benefit from federal financial aid programs collect and report certain statistics related to campus crime.
The full 2018 Campus Safety, Security and Fire Report is available on the University of Arizona Police Department’s website.
Follow Vanessa Ontiveros on Twitter