Department of Public Safety released its annual security report Wednesday, which tracks on- and off-campus crime statistics. This year’s report showed an overall decrease in crime during the past three years, according to DPS officials.
Universities receiving federal aid are required by the Jeanne Clery Act to compile a campus security act by Oct. 1 of each school year. According to the act, the report must include crime data for the past three years.
“The Department of Public Safety is constantly evaluating our methods to create as safe of an environment as possible for students and faculty,” said DPS Capt. David Carlisle.
The majority of on-campus crime decreased between 2007 and 2009. Robbery, in particular, decreased significantly, down from 20 reported incidents on campus in 2007 to one incident on campus reported in 2009. Residential communities also showed a decrease in crime, said Carol Hayes, DPS director of administrative operations
“There has been a 70 percent reduction in robberies over the past four years, and we’re proud of that,” Hayes said.
The only clear increase of on-campus violent crimes was in forcible sex offenses, with nine reports in 2009, an increase from six incidents in 2008 and none in 2007.
Off-campus, public property and LAPD-reported crimes showed an increase in some crimes, such as forcible sex offenses, but a decrease in others, such as burglary.
Assistant DPS Chief John Thomas noted that although robbery incidents reported to LAPD rose in 2009, all 10 instances were associated with major events, such as raves or the parade celebrating the Los Angeles Lakers’ championship.
Both negligent and non-negligent manslaughter had zero cases in the last three years, both on campus and in the surrounding areas.
“[The report should] dispel the perception that the area around USC is more dangerous than anywhere else in L.A.,” Thomas said.
The number of liquor, weapon and drug arrests and referrals has risen since 2007, with the number of on-campus liquor law referrals reaching 107 in 2009.
“More incidents are being reported [by students], and at the same time there is an increase in the amount of alcohol-related incidents that we’re seeing on 28th Street and other places,” Thomas said.
The report included statistics for the University Park and Health Sciences campuses, as well as the Orange County, Catalina Island, Sacramento, Marina Del Rey, Alhambra Health Sciences, San Diego and Aviation centers. The satellite campuses showed relatively low levels of crime compared to the University Park Campus.
Fire safety information was also included for the first time in the report, including the status of alarm systems and instances of fires. According to the report, only one fire occurred in 2009, which was an accidental fire in the off-campus Troy apartment complex.
Even with the descending rates, Thomas said that DPS is concerned with cracking down on violent crimes in particular.
“I think it can always be improved, but we have seen the level of crimes go down in all categories,” Thomas said. “As long as it continues to go down, we’re happy, but it can always be better.”
Carlisle, Thomas and Hayes said students must be mindful of their surroundings and put safety first.
“Crime prevention measures don’t change from year to year. I talk about the importance of making smart decisions — the single most [important] component of safety is personal behavior and choices,” Carlisle said.
Carlisle also reiterated the importance of not walking alone off campus at night, taking advantage of free transportation services and not advertising valuables as students walk in the area.
Despite the lower crime rates last year, most students still seem to be mindful of the dangers on campus.
“I try not to go out after its dark, and I guess I’d call Campus Cruiser if it got too late. I also carry around pepper spray,” said Vivian Tsui, a freshman majoring in aerospace engineering.
DPS officials said they are constantly evaluating their practices in order to create the safest environment possible for students and faculty.
“Students need to be aware because it impacts the campus community that they live in,” Thomas said. “[They need to] be aware of how they can contribute to a safer environment.”