Georgetown University crime statistics released today report an overall decrease in crime on campus, although reported forcible sexual assaults in university-owned residences have increased.
An advance copy of the annual Crime Awareness and Security Report provided to The Hoya by the Department of Public Safety shows that the number of reported crimes have continued to decrease on campus over the last three years.
There were 263 incidences of reported crime on campus or in university-owned property in 2003, as compared to 329 in 2002. In 2001 there were 439 reported crimes.
The largest decrease in reported crimes comes in thefts. Overall reported thefts have decreased by more than 100 since 2001. In 2003 there were 215 thefts reported on campus as compared to 289 in 2002.
According to DPS Director Darryl Harrison, these decreases in crime come as a result of increased DPS visibility and performance.
“We were extremely pleased with our efforts and the results of those last year. The challenge for us is to maintain this,” he said. “We’re increasing our efforts particularly in the [Prospect Street] area to focus on the issues at hand.”
Harrison said that DPS has concentrated particularly heavily on reducing theft on and around campus.
“Part of our measures were the introduction of surveillance cameras to many areas of campus and utilizing special decoy operations with plain clothes officers and simply coordinating more information to make arrests,” he said.
Yet despite this overall reported crime decrease, there were 16 reported forcible sexual assaults in university residences in 2003. In 2002 there were seven and, in 2001, six. According to Harrison and Shannon Hunnicutt, Georgetown’s Sexual Assault and Health Issues coordinator, the apparent increase may be due to a greater willingness among students to report sex assaults to DPS.
DPS officers have received specialized sex assault training to help them deal with victims of sex crimes more sensitively.
“Sex assault is traditionally an underreported crime so I think this means that more people are willing to report sex crimes but not that there have necessarily been more sexual assaults on campus,” Hunnicutt said.
Hunnicutt added that she is pleased with the response of the university to victims of sexual assault and that she is “committed to continuing to strengthen partnerships with DPS and its officers.”
Harrison said that although statistics from the first half of 2004 are not included in the report, crime rates have generally remained steady since last year.
He emphasized that much of the crime decrease is due to an increasing student willingness to report suspicious incidents to DPS.
“I want to commend the students, as we’ve had a number of examples in the last year of students getting involved and providing helpful information to us,” he said.
Harrison also responded to student concerns about a recent spike in violent crime near the Georgetown campus.
“Everybody needs to be concerned when there appears to be any type of spike and in the entire metropolitan area there appears to be an increase in these types of crimes,” he said. “A lot of agencies are working together to figure out what’s going on. Historically you get more of these around the holiday period but they’re early this year.”
DPS is increasing patrols near campus and Harrison advised students to use the SafeRides program whenever possible.
This year, the SafeRides program is being operated by DPS officers on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. It allows students to be safely transported to areas close to campus and back again.
The Clery Act mandates that colleges and universities that receive federal aid publish an annual crime statistics report.