Police chief says crime trends show little change

May 25, 2011, 3:04 a.m.

Though an increase in community alerts from the Stanford University Department of Public Safety (SUDPS) may have given the impression crimes were on the rise in the 2010-11 academic year, Police Chief Laura Wilson said campus crime trends remain similar to those of past years.

“I believe that awareness has been increased as a result of the increased number of community alerts that have been issued, not necessarily [due to] an increase in the amount or type of crime,” Wilson wrote in an email to The Daily. “My hope is that increasing awareness will result in people taking appropriate precautions to safeguard their property and themselves.”

Wilson noted that the increase in community alerts helps fulfill the intent of the Clery Act, a law requiring higher education institutions to issue alerts about certain types of crimes.

While crime rates overall did not spike this year, Wilson revealed that three particular incidents that took place this year were unusual for campus crime activity. These incidents were the “stranger assault” at Manzanita Field on January 3, the attempted sexual assault in Escondido Village on April 9 and the recent shots fired in the Lagunita parking lot on May 14.

Wilson also stated that there was a noticeable increase in the number of sexual misconduct cases reported to both the police and campus security authorities.

“My opinion is that the increased reporting does not reflect an increase in the actual number of sexual assaults,” Wilson said.

In addition, there was also a notable increase in the number of alcohol transports. Wilson attributes this increase in transports to improvements in the staff-training program.

“I attribute the increased number of transports to the continued education of students who hold staff positions, such as RAs, that is slowly changing the culture and expectations around seeking assistance for students who have made poor decisions that result in their needing medical attention,” Wilson said.

The main concerns for SUDPS in the 2010-11 academic year included non-stranger sexual assault, risky alcohol use by students and people visiting campus, bicycle/pedestrian safety and student mental health.

SUDPS launched a series of new initiatives this year to reduce campus crime. Among these initiatives was the implementation of the Building Manager Liaison Program, which deals with University personnel managing the approximate 800 buildings on campus.

SUDPS is also working with the ASSU to produce a training video for SUDPS personnel, which “focuses on the perceptions students, particularly students of color and the LGBT community, have when contacted by the police, in an effort to continue to build community and enhance trust between police officers and the community,” Wilson said.

Wilson plans to continue to foster a more trusting relationship between students and campus police next year with the implementation of a Police Advisory Committee. The committee will provide feedback to SUDPS on how to best enhance its services to the community. According to Wilson, the committee will include representatives from the student body, faculty, staff and parents.

SUDPS also intends to continue its Community Police Academy, a one-unit class offered to faculty, staff and students through the Law School. The class gives students the opportunity to observe situations from a police officer’s point of view and aims to develop a stronger relationship between the police department and the Stanford community.

“I continue to advocate that crime prevention is a community effort and that everyone must play a role in creating and maintaining a safe campus,” Wilson said.

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