Crime report shows progress, but more information would be beneficial
Statistics don’t show if crimes were solved, what campus crimes occurred on or crimes in Heights
Transparency is key for any police department. University Police have done their part under the Clery Act to annually release crime reports, but we would like to see more.
While the report UPD released on Friday shows promising signs – like burglaries decreasing by 50 percent and robberies going down to just four total in 2014 – additional information on how many crimes were solved and a breakdown of what campus the crimes occurred on would be beneficial to get a real idea of crime on campus and the work being done by UPD. And of course, when looking at these stats, we must keep in mind they do not include all the crimes occurring in the University Heights right off South Campus.
This would of course be asking UPD to go beyond what is required of them under the Clery act, but nonetheless, it would help students get a better idea of the community they work and live in.
Knowing how many crimes get solved is just as helpful as knowing how many crimes occurred. It would bring both scrutiny and praise for the department. It’s great that burglaries decreased from 50 to 25 in 2014 – but if all 25 went unsolved, what good is it?
Those statistics would have been nice to see included in the report for all students, faculty and staff to see, even if its not required by the act.
The breakdown, while accounting for if crimes occurred in residence halls, non-campus buildings or on public property, does not specify what campus the crimes occurred on. This would give the UB community a better grasp what particular crimes to watch out for when on a particular campus.
Deputy Chief of Police Joshua Sticht said that while the perception is that South Campus, located in the city of Buffalo, has all the crime issues, most of the reports come from North Campus, located in Amherst.
It actually makes a lot of sense.
The vast majority of classes and students are on North. The medical school is moving away from South and the campus only has two residence halls. Even though Amherst has significantly less crimes than Buffalo, there’s still going to be more crimes on North because that’s where the people are.
The crimes numbers are also not as high for South Campus because, as Sticht also pointed out, UPD does not patrol or have jurisdiction in the Heights, the crime-ridden neighborhood surrounding the campus. That’s Buffalo Police’s area. UPD does assist Buffalo Police if asked, but they mostly just do that for parties.
A UB student robbed in his or her apartment blocks away from the university does not have to be included in the reports.
It almost feels like there just be an asterisk next to the crime stats – a large number of crimes are occurring on streets literally boarding the university and streets where many students live. If UB truly took responsibility for the Heights and the crimes occurring within them, the crime numbers of these annual reports would be much higher.
Still, the statistics show good signs. Like the 50 percent decrease in burglaries and sex offenses – although we must keep in mind many sexual assaults go unreported. It would just be beneficial to know more about these crimes.