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Response to campus crime report

By | November 28, 2012 | News (2)

Fresno State held a press conference Tuesday in response to a report published by Business Insider which stated that Fresno State was ranked 19 on the most dangerous campuses list. Fresno State Police Chief Jim Watson was a member of the panel helped clarify the reporting process and how Fresno State is working to alleviate campus crime.
Roe Borunda / The Collegian

Fresno State has been ranked among the likes of UCLA and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but not for academics.  Business Insider listed Fresno State 19 of 25 schools recognized for the number of crimes perpetrated on campus.

Between 2008 and 2011, Fresno State police reported 413 property crimes and 12 violent crimes were report.

In compiling the list, Business Insider averaged FBI crime data from 2008 to 2011.  This FBI data only accounts for schools with more than 10,000 students. Violent crimes and property crimes were categorized separately, but when violent crimes were counted they carried a weighted value four times higher than property crimes.

The crime reports are voluntarily sent to the FBI, and according to the Business Insider’s article many schools do not participate in the program.  For some schools, the campus police’s jurisdiction runs into urban areas around the schools. Fresno State’s police department operates around the school’s perimeter but also takes calls in the neighborhoods and apartments complexes around campus.

According to Lieutenant Jim Watson of Fresno State Campus Police, the university volunteers the crime data to the FBI, but is required under the Clery Act of 1965 to inform the public of crimes committed on campus. Updated crime information can be viewed on the campus police website.

Watson spoke of Fresno State being a safe campus though it sits within a densely populated urban area. He said the campus police department has been able to focus more on crime prevention by hiring civilians to operate traffic patrols. Following this, he added that more officers are always needed.

“The civilianization does help out, but there comes a certain point where we’ve used all the technology we can all the civilianization we can.  Now its time to really hire more badge carrying, gun carrying police officers,” Watson said.

Paul M. Oliaro, vice president of student affairs,  spoke in regards to university administration’s perspective of the Business Insider report.

“Hopefully, it will heighten students awareness of the importance of being safe, of understanding the ways they can protect themselves, being more security-conscience. And kind of reinforce the message we try to send to students all the time about not walking alone at night, always walking in pairs—whether they’re on or off campus—be aware of the emergency lighting and emergency phone system on campus,” Oliaro said.

Oliaro went on to discuss the emergency call application recently added to the Fresno State mobile application.  The app displays a map of the campus’ emergency phone stations.

When one clicks the app’s emergency phone line, the campus police will respond. They can also locate the user on-campus.  Currently, however, this portion of the app is unavailable to iPhone users.

Associate Students, Inc. President Arthur Montejano responded to the report by citing that he feels safe and has seen improvements in student interaction with law enforcement.

“Students feel comfortable going to law enforcement and reporting the crimes,” Montejano said.  “And we are really getting a lot better at that. We do it not only through the formal channels but through social media too let each other know and keep each other aware and make it a safer community.”

Melissa Ellis, the ASI community affairs coordinator, cited the Community Revitalization Summit held Nov. 19 at Fresno State. At this summit community members came together to address crime and poverty issues.  Ellis said the summit participants discussed ways students can become more involved in revitliation of the surrounding community area.

As of last year, students have contributed 1200 volunteers hours to various revitalization projects.

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