NIU report shows on-campus crime statistics

By Alex Fiore

NIU has released its 2010 Annual Security Report as mandated by the Clery Act.

The report provides university policies for crime and safety in detail, as well as on-campus crime statistics.

The report contains crime statistics from 2007 to 2009, which allows the reader to examine trends in on-campus crime over the past three years. The biggest drop-offs in crime were burglary offenses, which fell from 66 in 2007 to only 7 in 2009.

“We reclassified how we determine burglary,” said Sgt. Alan Smith of the NIU Police Department.

Forced entry needs to be apparent for the crime to be filed under burglary now, Smith said. Instances where property disappears without forced entry is now filed under “theft,” which is not part of the report.

Forcible sex offenses fell from 17 in 2007 to 8 in 2009 and weapons law violations fell from three in 2008 to zero in 2009.

The biggest increases in crime were all related to drug and alcohol violations.

Alcohol arrests increased from 34 in 2008 to 58 in 2009, and drug-related arrests grew from 36 in 2007 to 46 in 2009. Alcohol-related disciplinary referrals that did not result in arrests grew from 247 in 2008 to 356 in 2009.  Drug-related disciplinary referrals that did not result in arrests grew from 40 in 2007 to 110 in 2009.

“We’re just dealing with more it,” Smith said.  “Now that we’re patrolling off-campus, it’s going to continue to go up.”

Officers are now more likely send alcohol and drug offenders to judicial referral than just letting them off with a warning, and repeat offenders are more likely to receive punishment, Smith said.

“Depending on the person’s behavior and how many times we’ve dealt with them before, we’re more likely to make an arrest,” Smith said.

According to the report, there were four instances of vandalism hate crime involving racial bias in the residence halls in 2009. There were no reported instances in 2008.

For the second straight year, aggravated assault offenses rose (7 in 2007, 10 in 2008, 12 in 2009). Students said they do not feel unsafe on campus, but they are sure to keep their guard up.

“I’m a little more wary at night,” said sophomore nutrition major Kari Gilstead. “If I hear leaves crunching behind me at night, I’ll turn around real quick.”

Junior psychology major Heather Creighton said she feels safe on campus, but reminds students that “you should always be aware of your surroundings.”

Besides crime statistics, the report also explains university policies on alcohol, drugs, sexual assault, sexual harassment and emergency response.

The Clery Act requires all colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs are required to file a report annually, and was first enacted in 1990.

Anyone who wishes to read the full report can do so at the University Legal Services or NIU Department of Police & Public Safety websites.