PLNU’s Department of Public Safety released their most recent edition of the Annual Crime and Safety Report via email to students and faculty on Oct. 1. The report is a result of the Clery Act which was enacted in 1990 as a part of the Higher Education Act of 1965. It details crimes and on campus incidences from the years 2014 to 2016.
The most recent year reported, 2016, showed a number of both similarities and differences compared to the previous years. It must be noted, as stated directly in the report, that these statistics do not include unreported crimes, crimes outside of the institution, or lesser crimes not covered by the Clery Act.
On page 25 of the report it states that the Clery Act “requires all postsecondary institutions participating in federal student financial assistance programs to disclose certain information on campus crime and various safety and security-related policies.”
The first statistics that stand out are for criminal offense reports and the fact that there were four reported burglaries on campus over the course of 2016, while there were none in 2014 and 2015. One reported burglary occurred in dorms while the rest occurred on campus. Kaz Trypuc, Public Safety Supervisor, sat down with The Point to go over these burglaries as well as the rest of the report.
“Most of those would have been in offices if I recall correctly. This would have meant someone unlawfully gaining access to a faculty member’s offices and taking something off their desk.,” Trypuc said. “The definition of a burglary is very particular. A lot of people tend to think a guy with a mask and a crow-bar smashing a window, but really it just means someone entering a building with the intent of theft.”
Trypuc also stated that most of thefts in the dorms happen in common areas where people blindly drop their bags for a moment. There was also one reported incident of arson, compared to two in 2015, which were a result of trash can fire. There were no other criminal offense reports on campus in 2016, although there was one rape report as well as one motor vehicle theft report in 2015.
“The key takeaway when it comes to this report, is we do live and work, thankfully, in a very safe neighborhood. That said, stuff does happen, we encourage people to come forward and report that. That vast a majority of what we deal with is theft. A lot of it is preventable,” said Trypuc.
One of the more surprising details of the report was the lack of sexual assault cases reported. The only reported case of sexual assault was in 2015 at a non-campus property, which are properties located in the Point Loma and City Heights areas and location details are listed on page six of the report. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center stated in their 2015 report that one in five women and one in 16 men experience sexual assault while attending college. They also go on to say that 90% of those assaults go unreported. Compared to the national statistics, our numbers are low.
“Typically, what most college campuses are seeing, is that these crimes are being committed by known individuals, not somebody lurking in the shadows,” Trypuc said. “Statistics show that sexual assault is under-reported and that is something that I wonder about. What goes on that people aren’t telling us?”
Trypuc stressed the importance of reporting all criminal activity, including sexual assault. Page seven lists people to go to when you feel like you were sexually assaulted. On page eight of the report, it says that Public Safety does not have an official anonymous reporting channel, but they do offer anonymous reporting online.
For arrests and referrals for disciplinary action, there was a sharp decline in referrals for liquor law and drug law violations in comparison to previous years. PLNU saw only two referrals for liquor law violations in 2016, a significant decrease from six in 2014 and seven in 2015. In addition, only one referral for drug law violations was granted, compared to seven in 2014 and eight in 2015. No other arrests and referrals for disciplinary action were recorded for 2015 or 2016. There was only one report for stalking in 2016, as opposed to three in 2015.
“When you’re dealing with such small numbers it feels like the numbers jump up and down. One thing that did impact how these crimes get recorded is the legalization of recreational marijuana, when that took effect mid-way through 2016. Based on what we have seen so far in the spring of 2017 and this fall, you’re probably going to see a rise in drug offenses,” Trypuc said.
As you look at the numbers on the crime report, for every row labeled “public property,” there is an asterisk followed by a zero. This represents statistics found on page 48 that depict a much different story than the one found on campus. PLNU is apart of a zone called “tract 72” that covers the main campus and the surrounding neighborhoods and parts of Ocean Beach, ending at Point Loma Ave.. In our tract during 2016, there were three rape cases, one robbery, one aggravated assault, 15 burglaries, seven motor thefts, 10 drug arrests, 32 alcohol arrests and 2 weapons arrests.
“Living out here you may feel like you’re apart of the PLNU bubble still, but look, it’s a different world out there. It is not uncommon for people to have their cars broken into when they leave valuables laying out,” said Trypuc
The Point made multiple attempts to reach out to SDPD but were unsuccessful in finding out any more information that the report does not already show. SDPD recommended to all students and faculty concerned with safety related to the campus and surrounding areas to visit the San Diego website. Under the Public Safety tab, you can access more recent crime reports, designated by neighborhood.
“The thing that I want students to take away is we need everyone on campus to take some responsibility when it comes to campus safety, whether that be for themselves or for other people. But I think by large we do a really good job. Calling in suspicious people, that is really helpful, we want people to continue to do that. Obviously we want people to let us know what’s happening”