Drug arrest increase shows police are doing better job

By Angela Pagan

The rise in drug law violation arrests at NIU is actually good news.

The 2015-2016 Annual Safety and Security Report, which was released Oct. 1, shows that the number of reported drug law violations had about doubled since 2013; the report shows 113 violations in 2014, 63 of which occurred on campus, and 38 of those within residence halls. At first glance these numbers raise concern, but they actually show improvement in campus safety.

NIU is a fair-sized university, and although numbers have increased they need to be looked at within the context of this campus. The rise in violations doesn’t necessarily suggest students are behaving differently or more negatively.

“It’s really not [a lot] when you consider the fact that we have over 20,000 students,” said NIU Police Chief Tom Phillips. “I don’t think it indicated increased drug use. “We’re being more proactive and trying to address the problem.”

The police department’s efforts have not gone unnoticed, and the rising numbers in the report are good evidence.

“Some things have changed,” Phillips said. “In 2014 we started patrolling a lot more outside of the residence halls.”

Phillips also said NIU police have increased collaboration with the DeKalb Police Department.

In a perfect world, drugs would not be a problem at all on campus. Though it is unfortunate students are being fined and arrested for drug violations, it is the only way to keep drugs from endangering students.

“I don’t think drugs are a big deal here because they don’t cause any actual crimes other than the crime of possessing them,” said sophomore history major Nicholas Ingram. “I only stand for cannabis, though. No other harder drugs.”

Ingram said he does not view drugs as a danger to the student community, but views the numbers in the safety report in a positive light.

“I think the increase is good because it shows that the police are doing their job and on top of things,” Ingram said.

This report inspires confidence in the safety of NIU students and faculty. Although crime has been a hot topic recently, it is nice to see both NIU and DeKalb police working together to keep the community safe; unfortunately, their success comes at the expense of a small number of students who choose a lifestyle outside of the rules set by NIU. This is a choice some students make and one that comes with consequences.

I applaud NIU and DeKalb police for their efforts and hope students take these numbers as a reason to keep drugs off campus.

Read the Annual Safety and Security report at clery.niu.edu.