In reviewing campus crime statistics for the annual Security and Fire Safety Report, University Police aims to decrease liquor law violations, theft and sexual assaults related to social media and dating apps through preventative patrolling and programming.
Disciplinary referrals for liquor law violations have increased to 411 from 384 in 2017, and UPD Chief Clarence Green said many have come from student tailgating just off of University property, then coming to athletic events or to residence halls.
Green said since tailgating rules changed in 2017 to allow designated drinking lots, UPD has increased its presence around the stadium before games, but the empty lot across the street from campus has proved problematic for crime prevention.
“We’re not really having any issues, very minimal issues within our lots of minors consuming alcohol,” Green said. “Our biggest problem is in the unregulated area across the way from us.”
Green said UPD has worked with Maryville Public Safety to police that area in an attempt to keep underage students from drinking, but its status as private property has hindered the process.
The second-highest reported crime in the report is disciplinary referrals for drug abuse violations. Violations dropped from 42 to 18 from 2016 to 2017, but rose again in 2018 to 39.
Green said many of those were from students possessing small quantities of marijuana.
“About four years ago with some help from Dr. (Kori) Hoffmann out of student conduct to where we implemented some processes around disorderly conduct if you just smelled like marijuana and entered our campus,” Green said. “What we found was; we pushed a lot of our marijuana cases … out of the hall. We’ve not prevented the crime, but we’ve just kind of pushed it to a different location.”
Residential life employees train with UPD during the summer. Green said they are an essential part of prevention of liquor and drug violations. For the last two years, Jacob Wood has acted as a law enforcement liaison in the residence halls.
Green said statistics for liquor and drug violations ebb and flow, but he said the general trend remains consistent.
In 2018, 11 incidents of rape, 11 incidents of fondling, 11 cases of dating violence and two cases of stalking were reported to UPD.
Although these incidents were reported directly to UPD or through the Title IX office, Green said many students chose to report only for documentation and not to press charges. In those cases, he said there is not much UPD can do on those students’ behalf to keep them safe.
“We try to refer them to different services, but sometimes it’s very difficult,” Green said. “What we do try to work with them on is connecting with an advocate, connecting them with a counselor and trying to empower them to eventually go forward.”
In recent years, Green said many reported sexual assaults have involved students meeting on dating apps or social media. He said in the past, the majority of sexual assault or stalking cases were perpetrated by someone the victim knew and trusted.
“(Dating apps and social media) have made predatory behavior difficult to understand from a law enforcement perspective,” Green said.
Green said preventative programming teaches students some strategies for being safe when they are alone on campus or at night, but he said the heart of crime prevention is through the perpetrators and not the victims.
“We have to get that messaging across, and that’s something we’re working on daily,” Green said. “We don’t have a good strategy of how we’re going to do that, but we’re really trying to work hard to figure that out.”
Although theft, burglary and property damage are not included on the report, Green said those are the highest statistics and the ones UPD looks at the most. He said UPD also analyzes well-being checks and medical calls.