Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Campus Crime Rose Sharply Last Year

Reported crime at Georgetown rose by nearly 20 percent last year, with the Department of Public Safety recording over 300 incidents on or near the university’s main campus, according to newly released data.

DPS released its annual Crime Awareness and Campus Security Report Saturday, which revealed an overall increase in reported on- and off-campus crime from 263 reported incidents in 2003 to 323 in 2004.

DPS Director Darryl Harrison said that he was not surprised by the spike in reported crime.

“There was an increase, but it was expected because the prior year was an exceptionally good one,” he said.

Of the various crime categories, reported thefts rose most sharply last year, with 64 more incidences of theft on campus and in university-owned residences than in 2003, according to the report.

Burglary – defined as theft involving the unlawful entry of a residence – also demonstrated a sharp increase, with the number of reported incidents rising to 26 from 39 in 2004. Altogether, there were 300 reported thefts and burglaries last year.

Harrison said that the report’s findings indicate that burglary and theft pose the greatest challenge for the university. He attributed the 2004 increase to “unsecured property and unlocked doors,” and said that DPS has taken measures to reduce those and other crimes. Harrison added that his office has allocated extra resources to fight crime around the university and said that extra DPS patrols recently created to reduce crime “have been successful so far.”

Reports of non-theft crimes near campus remained steady. Eighteen sexual assaults were reported last year, compared with 16 in 2003.

David Morrell, vice president for university safety, said that the numbers were skewed by an increase in area crime, and particularly assaults, in fall 2004.

Metropolitan Police Department officials “don’t know what caused the spike, but the spike that occurred here in Georgetown was noticeable across the city,” Morrell said. He added that crime statistics observed so far in 2005 have been more encouraging.

“[It’s] common in law enforcement, where there are spikes,” he said. “Maintaining a flat level is very difficult to do, but I also think we’ve gotten off to a good start this year as compared to last year.”

Crime has been decreasing overall in the District for the past several years, according to MPD statistics. Reported burglaries in PD’s Second District, which includes Georgetown, fell nearly 30 percent from 2003 to 2004.

Despite the increase in reported campus crime, there were some bright spots in the recent DPS report. Reported crime at the Georgetown University Hospital dropped significantly, going from 76 reported incidents in 2003 to 60 in 2004. Reported crime at the Law Center fell markedly too, from 37 in 2003 to 14 in 2004.

Morrell added said that the university is taking steps to increase cooperation with the Metropolitan Police Department and develop new safety-related initiatives on campus. He attributed falling crime levels this year to increased MPD patrols near campus that began in March.

“The university has worked hard to further improve its relationship with MPD,” he said. “We are continuing to encourage MPD to maintain their patrol areas.”

Morrell also said that the student safety survey released last month had helped administrators decide to implement new campus safety reforms. Officials are now preparing plans to enhance safety in areas that students indicated they felt unsafe, such as the area behind Village A on Prospect Street, Morrell said.

New lighting and a more visible DPS presence on Prospect Street and other areas on and near campus are planned too, he said.

Some students said that they remain worried about campus safety, however.

“It’s cause for concern,” said Village A resident Mahmud Riffat (SFS ’07) of the increased in reported crime. “I wish DPS was more visible around campus.”

N Street resident Mike McGrath (SFS ’07) said that he was also worried by crime around campus.

“I don’t feel like I am going to be killed, but I do feel like there is a real chance I may get robbed,” he said.

Harrison cautioned that crime will always be a lingering problem for Georgetown because of criminals who specifically target universities. Some criminals “know our habits as well as we do,” he said.

Harrison added that student vigilance is one of the most effective ways to combat criminal activity. Both Morrell and Harrison encouraged students to always lock their doors to prevent thefts.

The university is required by federal law to release its crime statistics for the most recent calendar year on Oct. 1 each year.

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