The crime rate on campus this academic year has remained similar to that in past years, with a jump in crimes against persons balanced by a downturn in property crime, according to Department of Public Safety Associate Director Joseph Smith.
While the total number of crimes has remained steady, the university is undertaking new measures to reduce crime, said Vice President for University Safety Rocco DelMonaco.
“The crime rate on campus has remained largely the same as in previous years. . We have seen a number of incidents in the surrounding areas, and we are working collaboratively with [the Metropolitan Police Department] to address these issues,” DelMonaco said.
DPS crime logs for the month of March 2010 include 35 incidents of crime ranging from burglary to sexual assault to theft to drug violations to public indecency. These numbers for March 2010 are an improvement when compared to March 2009, which had 51 such incidents; many of these 51 crimes were property damage, however, such as graffiti or defacement with paint. Comparisons between the crime logs for January and February show similar trends.
In contrast, crimes against students have increased this year. Eighteen bias-related incidents were reported in fall 2009; five bias-related incidents were reported in fall 2008. Sivagami Subbaraman, director of the LGBTQ Resource Center, said that the increase in bias-related incidents reported was not necessarily due to an increase in crime, but merely due to more familiarity with the reporting system. In response to the bias-related incidents in fall 2009, DPS assigned a hate crimes and LGBTQ officer.
While no bias-related incidents have been reported this semester, crimes perpetrated against persons, not property, have continued to increase in frequency.
DPS instituted a series of new measures over the course of the year to prevent these types of crimes, including the implementation of the Rape Aggression Defense program and creating a team to monitor DPS response to sexual assaults and domestic and dating violence for quality assurance purposes.
Despite these new measures, two sexual assaults occurred in the beginning of April, one of them on campus in Copley Hall. In March, a burglar assaulted a student, a student was robbed outside of her Burleith residence and a Georgetown resident was robbed at gunpoint. Additionally, at least four burglaries occurred in townhouses located within a two-block radius of campus between March 15 and March 23.
Following the burglaries, DPS said it would step up patrols and encourage students to lock their doors. Other safety measures DPS has instated are hiring contract security to supplement DPS coverage during emergency conditions, hiring a new crime prevention coordinator and a supervisory investigator and enhancing student guard training.
DPS officers received a $2.50 per hour pay raise under a new three-year contract approved in February. Members of Georgetown Solidarity Committee, which rallied in support of raising wages, said that wage increases would increase the size of the DPS staff as well as officer retention rate.
According to Smith, new safety measures are in store for DPS. These include the expansion of the RAD program to include training for men and children and improving the Adopt-A-Cop program, in which officers are assigned to individual residence halls and serve as the main point of contact for the students and Residence Life staff in that building. DPS also wants to install a new communications and report management system, according to Smith.
In addition, DPS is in the project development stage of making its Web site more interactive and user-friendly. This means providing services such as bike registration, anonymous tips and RAD registration in one location. Smith hopes to have this process completed by fall 2010.”