Crime on Campus Declines

by Robert Sanders, Public Affairs

Crime on the Berkeley campus continues to fall, with the total number of crimes reported to the FBI in 1997 down 10 percent from 1996, according to a recent campus police department report.

Overall crime on campus, which includes both property crime and violent crime, has been on the decline since 1990, marred only by a slight blip upward in 1995. This matches a national trend, according to Captain Patrick Carroll of the campus Police Department.

"We're way down from rates in the late 1980s, primarily because of greater public awareness and public education about how to protect yourself from being a victim, particularly of property crime," Carroll says.

The campus' own education efforts to combat property crime include crime prevention teams that meet with students in the residence halls, fraternities and sororities, and staff groups, as well as conducting individual security surveys.

Carroll also credits an increase in the number of officers on campus, particularly those assigned to foot and bicycle patrol, as well as an increased use of the campus's free night escort service and free night safety shuttle service. A "building liaison program" also assigns officers to one or more buildings that they patrol regularly in the campus equivalent of community policing.

"This gives people a face and a name for when they have something to report," Carroll says. "I think these programs have had a big impact."
Reported property crime in 1997 dropped 10 percent from 1996, and was down nearly one-third from the number reported five years ago, in 1992.

The only significant increase was in the number of aggravated assaults, largely because of incidents at People's Park involving individuals not associated with the university.

While there were no assaults in the park in 1996, there were five in 1997, bringing the total number of aggravated assaults on campus property to 14 - six more than 1996.

Only two of the 14 assaults actually occurred on the central campus, with the remainder reported at a variety of off-campus locations. Four students and one Berkeley police officer were among the victims. The most unusual weapon was a computer printer, which was used to strike one of the victims over the head.

The increase in aggravated assaults helped boost the number of violent crimes above last year's total, to 33 from 25, reversing a downward trend seen in the previous three years.

With regard to other violent crime, for the fifth year in a row there were no homicides on campus. Two rapes were reported in 1997 - the same number as in 1996 - and no attempted rapes.

Robberies were up by two from last year, for a total of 17, including two attempted robberies. Nine students were victims of robbery in 1997, compared to seven in 1996.

Overall, the number of students who were victims of violent crime doubled, from seven in 1996 to 15 in 1997.

Considering that the daily campus population is around 45,000 - the size of a small town - the crime rate is very low, Carroll points out. Violent crime in particular is almost negligible compared to urban areas or the state as a whole.

"The campus is a relatively safe place," Carroll says. "When people exercise good judgment, when they're aware and report suspicious activity, it contributes to creating a safe environment."



Copyright 1998, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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