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Metro, News

Brown sees overall decrease in crime in 2020 despite recent uptick in violent crimes

Providence Police Department also reported a decrease in almost all types of crime for the year, as compared to a weighted five-year average

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, October 15, 2020

According to DPS, the reported decrease in crime on campus can be attributed partially to having fewer students on campus than usual.

Reported crimes on the University’s campus decreased by 58 percent compared to last year, according to Brown’s Department of Public Safety crime report, which was reviewed by The Herald. DPS has also seen a 54 percent decrease in reported crimes for September alone, compared to last year.  

Because DPS only responds to incidents on University property, the decrease in crime is partially a result of fewer students on campus, said DPS Chief of Police Mark Porter. 

“Students were sent home in March, and they didn’t return until August. We didn’t have a summer program,” he said. “We would naturally think that there will be less crime.” 

Despite the general decrease in crime overall, Porter noted a “recent uptick in violent crimes.” There have been five simple assaults and two robberies this year up from three simple assaults and one robbery at this point last year, according to the crime report. Both robberies occurred in September. 

“To combat this, DPS and the Providence police have stepped up our patrols in the area, particularly during the evening,” Porter said.

In the first robbery on Sept. 12, a person walking on Thayer Street at approximately 12:50 p.m. was robbed of her purse and pushed to the ground, according to a DPS alert to the University community. In the second incident on Sept. 25, a man walking through the parking lot at 155 Angell Street around 11:30 p.m. was robbed by two people with firearms who stole his backpack and fled the scene, according to another DPS alert. Neither victim was Brown-affiliated.

Still, the Providence Police Department has seen a decrease of overall crime rates in the larger Providence area, where the population size is far more stable. Crime rates have decreased in 2020 by at least 10 percent in thirteen of fifteen crime categories, as compared to a weighted five-year average, according to the most recent Providence Police Department Crime Report. The number of homicides and aggravated assaults have increased, but violent crime as a whole, which also includes robbery, forced sex offenses and aggravated assaults with firearms, has decreased by 17 percent.

In light of the decreased crime rates, DPS officers have not had to run the same overtime that they would in a typical academic year, according to Porter.

Luci Jones ’23, whose bike was stolen in September, urged students to stay cautious. “If you have valuable belongings, (they) can be stolen,” she said, “even if you’re in what you think is the safety of campus.”

Another University student, who requested anonymity due to potential personal repercussions, became the victim of a burglary and a separate suspected break-in attempt in his off-campus apartment, both of which occurred since the semester began. 

“I left the house for maybe ten minutes, and I mistakenly left my window open with a screen down. …When I came back, my laptop was gone,” the student said. “People may feel like they’re safe on campus, but I wouldn’t rest on that,” he said. “Life throws you these curveballs.”

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