The Annual Security and Fire Safety report, which was released by the Department of Public Safety last Wednesday, illustrates a continuous decrease in crime in the USC community according to Deputy Chief David Carlisle.
Reports of auto theft dropped from 21 in 2013 to six in 2014, and reports of robbery decreased from 17 to 11. Both of these crimes have been steadily decreasing since 2012. However, reports of burglary increased from 28 to 31 in the last year and aggravated assault increased from eight to 10. Carlisle noted that when reports of crimes are relatively low, increases and decreases can be coincidental and difficult to prevent.
Another decrease occurred in Violence Against Women Act crimes. These crimes are defined by a 1994 federal law and include domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. The University created new policies to address these crimes in 2013 and saw a decrease from 26 to 17 reports in the last year.
“The University has implemented policies to make sexual assault reporting easier for students; therefore, DPS anticipated an increase in the number of reports,” Carlisle said. “However, the opposite was true. We hope that increased awareness and prevention have led to the decrease.”
A significant spike occurred on the Health Sciences campus, where motor vehicle theft rose from two reports in 2013 to 13 reports in 2014. Carlisle attributed this to the expansion of the campus, which has caused an increase in parking premiums. This typically causes students and faculty to park on side streets, which are not as closely monitored as the parking structures. DPS is currently building a new parking structure that will provide more secure parking spots.
Despite the spike, Carlisle reports that the number of auto thefts on the Health Sciences Campus are still remarkably lower than the average number in surrounding neighborhoods. To keep those numbers low, he is coordinating with LAPD to increase security presence in the areas where theft most often occurred. This effort is just part of the overall coordinating effort between DPS and the LAPD, who feel that the USC campus is continuing to lead the nation in safety and security measures.
“We believe that the crime statistics demonstrate that USC compares very favorably in comparison to institutions of higher learning in similar urban environments,” Carlisle said. “While in reality the objective of continual declines may be unachievable, our goal is to make USC the safest urban campus in America.”
The report is mandated by the Jeanne Clery Act, a 1990 federal statute aimed at providing accurate reports of on-campus safety. All colleges that receive federal funding are required to produce a security report that provides detailed analysis of certain types of crime on campus and in the surrounding area by Oct. 1 each year. The report also gives a detailed description of the University’s relationship with local police and its campus-wide procedures and policies for emergencies, discipline and security.
“The Annual Security Report’s purpose is to provide current and prospective students and staff with crime statistics so that they can make informed decisions about which educational institutions to attend or as a place of employment,” Carlisle said. “We are pleased to able to report an overall decrease in reportable crime over the prior year with notable reductions in robbery, auto theft and Violence Against Women Act crimes.”