University News

DPS report reveals decrease in crime

Rape, drug abuse numbers drop by 71, 64 percent respectively, stalking increases

By
Contributing Writer
Friday, October 7, 2016

An annual security report released by the Department of Public Safety last week charted several notable trends in campus crime from the last three years, including a decrease in reported drug violations, burglaries, robberies and rape.

The figures of reported drug violations plummeted by 71 percent in the last year. The document reports 22 drug violations in 2015, a stark decrease from the 76 reported drug violations in 2014. But the 2014 figure was an anomaly, as the number of reported drug violations has not strayed above 30 in each of the last five years excluding that year.

DPS Chief Mark Porter praised the Office of Residential Life for “doing a good job with the health and safety of residence halls.” Their checks throughout the residence halls and the residential community consistently keep the number of reported drug violations low, he said.

According to the report, incidents of burglary continue to fall on Brown’s campus, from 63 reported incidents in 2013, to 21 in 2014 and 13 in 2015.

Porter attributes the 2013 peak of burglaries to the tendency of students to leave their doors unlocked, leading to a high number of burglaries.

He attributed the drop in burglaries to certain DPS initiatives, noting that “DPS has been doing a good job in getting theft prevention information out, working with Residential Life staff (and) working with others to promote securing of property, rooms and offices. And that’s been paying off for us the last few years.”

Deputy Chief of DPS Paul Shanley attributed the fall of burglary reports partly to the success of Operation ID, a DPS-run initiative in which students, faculty members and staff members place a sticker on their cellphone or laptop. Operation ID “had very strong participation in 2014 and 2015 and really brought an awareness to laptop thefts,” he said.

Reports of robbery fell from 12 incidents in 2013 to four in 2014, and they remained at four in 2015. Porter attributed the decrease of robberies to a variety of factors, including the increase of yellow jacket security officers from six to 10 in 2014, as recommended by the Campus Safety Task Force.

“I think it’s a combination of all these things: officers out in high-visibility patrolling … (and) a partnership with the Providence Police to help patrol the campus area and surrounding area,” Porter said. “Also, students are really taking responsibility and utilizing the services that Brown has to offer, like the shuttle and the escort services.”

Reports of stalking more than tripled in the last year, rising from four reported incidents in 2014 to 13 in 2015. The sudden rise could be partially explained by an increase in cyber-stalking, Shanley said. In the past year, community members have received threatening and harassing emails over the internet, he added.

Though reports of rape more than doubled from 21 in 2013 to 44 in 2014, figures fell sharply in the 2015 year to 16 reported incidents.

The decrease is partially due to a change in terms as mandated by the Clery Center for Security on Campus, the organization that oversees the enforcement of the Jeanne Clery Act, which requires the security report. In 2015, it introduced the category of fondling, leading to eight reported incidents of fondling. In last year’s report, some incidents now categorized as fondling would have been classified as rape.

Amanda Walsh, the Title IX program officer, said the spike in reports of rape in 2014 can also be explained by the surge in conversation about rape and rape culture that followed the creation of Brown’s task force on sexual assault in 2014. “With the increase in conversation, I suppose we would expect an increase in reporting, both for incidents that were in that year and also students who might not have reported incidents that occurred in years earlier,” she said.

Despite a surge in certain categories of crimes from 2014 to 2015, the surge in reported incidents does not necessarily reflect the same pattern in actual crimes, Porter, Shanley and Walsh said. Instead, it might just indicate an increase in how comfortable people are in reporting them.