Crime increases at NIU

By Jennifer McCabe

An increase in the crime statistics for 1992 could be from the increase in public awareness and crime prevention according to George Shur, university legal council.

“The statistics are very misleading, NIU is no more dangerous than a year ago. In fact it is safer,” Shur said.

The crime statistics for NIU have gone up since 1992. However, there has not been a sizeable increase in violent crimes reported. These index crimes, include, but are not limited to, homicide, forcible sexual assault and non-forcible sexual assault, robbery, aggravated battery, burglary and motor vehicle thefts.

The adjustment to rape has changed to the requirements for rape to forcible and non-forcible sexual assault. The reporting of this offense has gone down in the past year from five rapes to two non-forcible sexual assaults and no forcible sexual assaults.

The University Police have amended their requirements to comply with the new Illinois law for sexual assult, said UP Lt. Cathy Guimond.

Shur said non-forcible sexual assault included statutory rape. Guimond said it was rape where force was not used, which are usually date rapes. She also said force is not needed to be considered assault.

“Rape has generally been defined as vaginal penetration by a penis,” Shur said. “But now, under Illinois federal law, the definition is much broader. Penetration is not needed to be considered an assault,” he said.

He continued, “It is a nasty fact that (rape) goes on in your age group across the country, but this is not a good place for it to happen. If the university finds out, you’re out of here.”

Guimond said, “We need to look past the stats. They’re good and bad, because behind each number is a person, who for whatever reason was a victim.”

The DeKalb statistics for 1992 are listed under the same index crimes as NIU. All of these reported crimes, except burglary have nearly doubled since 1991, states the DeKalb city crime statistics.

Zone one has the majority of off-campus college students, this area includes everything north of the railroad tracks and west of First Street, said Lt. Robert McMorrow of the DeKalb police department.

Offenses are reported crimes that are investigated and the police find valid reports. Arrests are made after the offense has been filed, McMorrow said.

The arrests for crimes related to alcohol, drugs and weapons have gone down, since 1991, the report states.

There has been an increase in awareness across the campus. The campus has put in new alarm boxes and more lights, especially on the east side of campus, Shur said.

NIU policy states anything taken from anyone is burglary not just theft, Shur said. “Thefts do not have to be reported, burglaries do.”

He said many schools across the country are going to have their crimes statistics compared for their safety, and NIU is not going to do well.

The statistics reports are very misleading and need to be interpreted individually. NIU includes a lot more area than a Chicago school where they might not own as many dorms or university streets, Shur said.

“A small town in the middle of a corn field is not as dangerous as downtown Chicago,” he said.

Mike Coghlan, state’s attorney said there is about a 90 percent overall conviction rate for offenses and arrests in DeKalb. The conviction rate also depends on the type of crime that was committed.

“We don’t want the people worrying about the numbers. That just makes people’s lives statistics and that is not right,” Coghlan said.

He said many of the felonies on campus are reduced to misdemeanors when the person has no prior criminal history. This helps them when they are looking for a job in the future, he said.

The NIU and DeKalb police have made an effort to reduce crime in DeKalb by putting more officers in the higher crime areas. “Certain types of crimes lead to increased police activity,” McCorrow said.

NIU is continuing its program of crime prevention and encouraging people to report more crimes. There is always the possibility people are not reporting the crimes, and that means the arrests are going down, Guimond said.

She said the public needs to report every crime, if the police don’t know what is going on, they cannot be there to help.

Crime prevention is getting out and people are learning to protect their property better. But they need to take steps to help with their personal protection, Guimond said.