University News

Report shows 2013 rise in campus crime stats

Burglary reports spike year to year, while forcible sex offenses rise slightly from 2012

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Features Editor, University News Editor, Science & Research Editor and Metro Editor
Thursday, October 2, 2014

The number of burglaries reported to the Department of Public Safety in 2013 nearly tripled from 2012, and the number of forcible sex offenses reported saw a slight rise, according to DPS’s annual security report, released Tuesday night.

There were 63 reported burglaries in 2013, up from 23 in 2012 and 40 in 2011. All but five of them occurred on campus.

DPS attributes this spike to an increased number of students leaving their dorm rooms unlocked and unsecured, Chief of Police Mark Porter told The Herald. Whether burglars are “strangers piggybacking off the street or other students who live in the dorm,” students should always lock their doors, Porter said.

All 21 of the forcible sex offenses reported in 2013 took place on campus. In 2012, 16 reported cases occurred on campus while one case took place on public property.

Both years constitute a significant jump from the seven reported incidents in 2011. But Porter attributed the rise not to an increase in offenses but an increase in reporting. “When the numbers go up, we look at it as maybe we’re putting more education out there and more victims are willing to come forward,” Porter said. “This is my top priority.”

“Critical evidence and timely investigations are missed when students don’t report,” Porter said, adding that victims are entirely in control and may come to the police and choose not to file criminal charges.

Per the reauthorization of the 2013 Violence Against Women Act, the categories of domestic violence, dating violence and stalking were added to the report this year, increasing the number of categories of reported criminal offenses to twelve. There were two incidents of domestic violence and one incident each of dating violence and stalking reported in 2013.

In past years these incidents may have been included under other categories, so the 2013 numbers do not necessarily indicate an increase in actual offenses, Porter said. Since domestic violence and dating violence incidents may have formerly been included as forcible sex offenses, that overall category’s year-to-year rise could be steeper than reflected in the report.

The number of reported off-campus robberies — defined as theft “by force or threat of force” while a victim is present — dropped from 16 in 2012 to 9 in 2013, while the number of reported robberies overall dipped from 17 to 12 over the same time period.

“We had a tough year in 2012,” Porter said, citing a higher crime rate in the city as a primary reason for the spike in 2012. Porter said the drop last year is partly due to the new safety measures enacted last fall by President Christina Paxson’s campus safety task force.

A motor vehicle theft was also reported last year for the first time since 2011.

No Brown community members were arrested for weapons violations, liquor law violations or drug violations in 2013, though the number of disciplinary referrals for all three categories increased last year.

Drug violation referrals have risen over the last three years, tallying 20 in 2011, 21 in 2012 and 28 in 2013.

There were also 67 referrals for liquor law violations in 2013, up from 39 in 2012 and 59 in 2011. But DPS reports show that one incident involved 25 students and a second incident involved 12 students, possibly accounting for the rise, Porter said.

There were no reported hate crimes in 2013. DPS has added gender identity as a subcategory of classifying hate crimes to reflect new mandates by the VAWA, Porter said.

When examining affiliated hospitals, the report noted that crime has been highest at Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island for the last three years. Crime there appears to be on the rise, including 10 aggravated assaults and 11 instances of sexual assault reported in 2013. The number of aggravated assaults there nearly doubled from 2012 and constitutes a significant spike from one reported incident in 2011.

To ensure the safety of the campus community amidst these crimes, the report also notes that DPS has unveiled several new initiatives.

A mobile app called Brown Guardian allows users to make emergency calls or send emergency tips to DPS. The app also features a safety timer that a user can set before starting a trip and that will notify DPS if the user does not deactivate it. And a new media program called Bear Tips provides videos that spotlight safety resources available on campus. Porter also holds office hours once a month in the Sciences Library.

Under a federal law entitled the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, colleges and universities are required to disclose “timely and annual information about campus crime and security policies,” according to the report.

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