When winter break rolls around, students know: use a little extra caution around Main Campus. Streets are emptier than usual, the hustle that usually defines campus is absent and countless off-campus houses sit vacant. Usually, an empty campus means higher risk for crime.
Last year’s winter break began with a string of armed robberies. This year, Campus Safety Services noticed a different trend in the crime statistics.
“We do see, usually during the break, some crime,” said Deputy Director of CSS Charlie Leone. “[But] we had it. It really was a lot lower than anticipated.”
CSS reported one robbery and subsequent arrest during the 2012-13 break, a 66 percent decrease from 2011-12 when there were three reported robberies.
The decrease in numbers, Leone said, can probably be attributed to adjustments and re-evaluations from CSS. With such a dynamic campus, CSS took a hard look at how patrols were being managed and readjusted strategies to combat crime spikes both before and during break.
“It seems like every semester break we have to re-evaluate how we plant our resources. So this semester we took a look,” Leone said.
This evaluation found that, while many students will go home for a short time, many local students will spend most of break on campus.
“We still have a high population of students around the area,” Leone said.
This recognition prompted Leone and CSS to change strategies. Rather than reducing patrols during break, Leone said, numbers remained consistent to match that presence of students.
“This year we just made sure that our numbers stayed very strong throughout the break,” he said. “We made sure that we kept our numbers the same way we keep them during the regular semester.”
Leone also indicated police competency and real-time adjustments in the lower numbers.
“I really think our folks are getting that whole ‘aha’ moment,” Leone said, adding that police leadership is taking initiative to make real-time changes when problems arise. “If [commanders and supervisors] see something happening, they know they can adjust a deployment. They can look at crime trends and make adjustments before anybody even talks to them. They’re making real-time changes, which is great.”
Along with this proactive mindset on the street, Leone also credited the positive changes to advancements in CSS communications. Twitter and other social networking sites have made it much easier to communicate with students, he said, and have made the channel of communication between police and students much more accessible.
“Hopefully all of this came into play,” Leone said. “We definitely saw a reduction of residential burglaries in the area.”
Ali Watkins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.