The University of Arizona Police Department recently released the Annual Security and Fire Safety Report. The report details crime and events that took place on the UA campus in the past year.
The report shows crimes that took place during the years 2019 to 2021. The Fire Safety Act is in accordance with the federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. Chief of University Police Paula Balafas encourages all students to read the report and also review the policies within it.
This year there were a few sections of the report that students should be aware of and that are of interest to the UA campus.
In the report, there was only one murder in 2021 that was listed. This one murder refers to the 2021 shooting of student Forrest Keys. The case has recently been closed and defendants were sentenced in his murder. The report does not include the recent death of professor Thomas Meixner, but the next report likely will.
Another area of interest within the report was the 50% increase of liquor law arrests. In 2020, there were only 54 total arrests made, but this number grew to be 104 arrests made in 2021.
“In 2020, due to [COVID-19] restrictions, our campus operations and the amount of students on campus was reduced significantly,” Deputy Chief of UAPD Mario Leon said. “So we didn’t really have a lot of activity on campus. A lot of special events were no longer there. So I believe that increase from the next year is due to the fact that most students came back and we had more events and we were getting back to a level we've seen back in 2019.”
On a more positive note, the number of drug arrests listed in the report has steadily decreased for three years straight. In 2019 there were 158 total arrests, in 2020 there were 96 total arrests and in 2021 there were only 40 total arrests.
Leon is hopeful that UAPD has helped change that number, but also knows there are other factors at play here. “I hope that our outreach, student orientation and events on the mall helped. However, I believe the majority of these decreases are the fact that Arizona law regarding marijuana changed, so we just aren't getting as many violations as we have seen in the past based on the legalization of marijuana,” Leon said.
Marijuana became legal in the state of Arizona in November of 2020 with the passing of Proposition 207. The proposition allowed the, “legalization, taxation, and recreational use of cannabis for adults 21 and over.”
The area of the report with the highest numbers is liquor law disciplinary action, but UAPD is able to divert these charges to the Dean of Students office through their diversion program.
“One of the elements of the work that [the diversion program does] is adjudicating code of conduct,” Associate Dean of Students Chrissy Lieberman said. “We have the opportunity to work with students who’ve been diverted by UAPD for first time offenses as well as the diversion program from the Pima County Court.”
The diversion program also works with the Pima County Court. If a UA student has a first time offense the court will divert it to the dean of students.
“The idea is that with our students we want to make sure that whenever possible there’s an educational element related to any behaviors that they have that might not be in line with the student code of conduct,” Lieberman said.
Lieberman is aware of the things that take place within resident halls simply because it is many students' first time away from home and being exposed to new things.
“We know that things happen, but they are not always something that we want to elevate to a criminal level leaving them with a criminal history for something that we can prevent in the future,” Lieberman said. “Here, we can educate them and then help them continue on for graduation, because that’s the end goal. We want everyone who comes here to get a degree.”
The overall idea of the diversion program is simple according to Lieberman; they give students the opportunity to make a mistake, and then to learn from the mistake and then grow from it.
With UAPD and the Dean of Students Office working together on these issues, it allows the students to learn and move on from their troubles and go back to being the best version of themselves that they can be.
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