According to the Annual Safety and Security Report released today by NIU, arrests and referrals related to drugs and alcohol dropped significantly in calendar year 2015, and crime in all other categories remained low.
Universities across the country are required to publish the report to comply with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act.
Arrests for drug-related offenses on the main NIU campus in DeKalb declined by 45 percent, and referrals to the university’s internal judicial process in that category were down by 30 percent. For alcohol-related offenses, arrests declined by 70 percent, and referrals by 4 percent. Much of that change, police said, can be credited to improved alcohol and drug awareness education in residence halls.
“As part of our Community Oriented Policing Strategies, we have been making a concerted effort to educate students who live on campus about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse,” said NIU Chief of Police Tom Phillips. “Given that knowledge, our students can make better choices. We are committed to educating our students so they can enjoy the many social activities available while staying safe. “
Most changes in crime statistics – whether positive or negative – were quite small. For instance, the number of robberies edged up from one to three, burglaries increased from 12 to 16, while assaults declined from 15 to 13.
“In a community of 20,000 people some crime is to be expected, but these statistics confirm that we have a safe campus – especially when all of our students, faculty and staff are informed and active in making safety a priority,” Phillips said. “We want all of those numbers to be as close to zero as possible, and we are continually working toward that goal.”
This year’s report featured several changes mandated by the federal government regarding how statistics are reported. For instance, sex offenses, which previously were classified only as forcible or non-forcible, are now broken down into four distinct categories. Correlating the data, the number of sex offenses dropped to 14 in 2015, down one from the prior year.
The Department of Education also created a separate category to track violations of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and clarified the definitions of domestic violence and dating violence. The new definitions were partially responsible for a drop in reports of domestic violence (by 78 percent). Dating violence climbed from four instances in 2014 to 26 in 2015, but many of those would have previously been classified as domestic violence, Phillips said.
The new reporting requirements also made crime totals slightly higher, he said, because each offense must now be tallied in every category for which it is eligible. For instance, a criminal offense that is also a VAWA offense is now logged twice whereas in the past it would have been counted only once.
In addition to crime statistics, the annual security report includes information on university’s safety-related policies, procedures and services. Hard copies of the report are available by contacting the NIU Department of Police and Public Safety at 395 Wirtz Drive, in DeKalb, or by phone at 815-753-1212.
The university also has published its annual fire safety report.