The 2016 Fire and Safety Report for the University of Connecticut shows a decrease in incidents of rape and Violence Against Women Act violations and a marked decrease in disciplinary referrals for liquor law violations.
The report is an annual requirement for all colleges and universities who receive federal funding to share information about crime on campus and their policies designed to improve campus safety.
The report shows that there were 24 incidents of rape reported in 2016, a decrease from 38 in 2015 and 43 in 2014. There were also 19 fewer reports of domestic violence incidents and 24 fewer reported incidents of stalking from 2015.
“We’re taking very proactive reporting efforts, not just the police department but the university as a whole,” Deputy Chief Magdalena Silver said.
Since 2014, the police department has increased its self-defense programs, Silver said. The department also runs the START a conversation problem which deals with issues of consent and works with the university for the Protect our Pack bystander intervention program.
“I think all those efforts, cohesively, are really reducing (incidents of sexual assault and domestic violence crimes) and helping people come forward,” Silver said.
The largest number of incidents fall into the disciplinary referrals for liquor law violations, with 431 incidents. This is dramatic decrease from 857 in 2015.
Silver said the Police Department has seen a drastic reduction in on-campus parties which contributes to the lower referral numbers.
Deputy Chief Andrew Fournier said liquor law violations are still the most prevalent crime UCPD deals with.
“I wouldn’t say it’s an overall campus problem, it’s just (that) with the community we serve (of) primarily 18 to 22-year-olds, a lot of the issues stem from alcohol use,” Fournier said. “I think that’s expected not only in our community.”
Some statistics that increased from 2015 include number of robberies, three versus zero in 2015, and weapons violations, eight versus two in the previous year.
Silver said these increases do not necessarily reflect an increase in incidents on UCPD’s end due to the nature of how the Clery act requires them to report incidents. The Clery report requires the police report every individual affected as an incident, whereas law enforcement considers each incident as a singular incident regardless of how many people are affected, Silver said.
For example, the Clery manual says that if a student enters five dorm rooms and steals from one of them, it is still to be counted as five incidents of burglary.
“They’re really looking at each person being affected by the incident,” Silver said. “A lot of what Clery is about is not punishment, it’s about resources and making sure that we have the resources supporting us.”
Another reason some of these numbers, such as those for weapon violations, may be a result of the fact that UCPD has hired 8 new officers over the past three years, Silver said.
“Part of training (for new officers) is pulling vehicles over, so there is a lot more enforcement that is bound to discover a few more things,” Silver said. “But we haven’t seen anything down in operations that tell us there’s something we need to be concerned about.”
Deputy Chief Andrew Fournier said that, while UCPD regularly reevaluates its polices, there have not been any major changes to the campus community or environment that sparked significant changes in the past three years.
“Part of (the accreditation) process is to evaluate changes in the culture and the environment and how that affects our polices,” Fourneir said. “That’s something we do regularly, there’s nothing that came out of the…report that prompted any specific policy review.”