FIUPD shows lower crime rates in recent years

Rebeca Piccardo and Raul Herrera/FIUSM Staff
news@fiusm.com

The new Annual Security report by FIUPD shows that University crime rates have been slightly dropping in recent years, despite the growth in student population.

Every year, the University police department, in compliance with the Clery Act, compiles a report with the number of crimes committed on each campus.

Categories include sex offense, robbery, aggravated assault, motor vehicle theft, burglary and arson.

Although national statistics show that one in four women will be affected, the report shows that there were only five sex offense cases at the University in 2013. There were six reported cases in 2011 and nine in 2012.

“We only get three to four reports of sexual assault a year. That’s a very low number for a campus of this size,” Chief of Police Alexander Casas previously told Student Media.

While the number of incidents stays low, Casas call attention to the fact that sex assault is still happening on campus.

“It’s just one less incident, and if you’re one of those victims, it’s still a big deal to you,” he said. The percentage, to us, isn’t anything to be proud of, because it’s a drop of one case.”

These are just the number of cases that were reported to police. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, about 60 percent of sex assaults are not reported.

“They may choose not to report to the police. That’s their choice,” Casas said. “But if it is reported to the police, we will absolutely investigate it.”

Even if students don’t want to report sex assault to police, Casas said they have many options to seek help.

“They can go directly to Victim Empowerment, they can go to their Title IX coordinator and obviously they can go to us,” Casas said.

Of the reported cases this year, four occurred in the Modesto A. Maidique Campus — two of which were in the MMC housing. One occurred while on study abroad.

No sex assault cases have been reported at the Biscayne Bay Campus since 2011.

According to RAINN, most sex assault cases were committed by someone known to the victim: 73 percent are committed by a non-stranger, 38 percent are committed by a friend or acquaintance, 28 percent are intimate and seven percent are committed by a relative.

Most cases also take place in familiar places: four in 10 take place at the victim’s home, two in 10 take place at the home of a friend, neighbor or relative and one in 12 take place in a parking garage.

Most sex assault cases occur between 6 p.m. and midnight.

For the first time, FIUPD added categories to further classify crimes where the victim might know the attacker: the new report includes number of domestic violence, dating violence and stalking on campus.

Dating violence is  categorized when violence is committed by someone in a social, romantic or intimate relationship with the victim. To determine this, police look into the length of the relationship, the type of relationship and the frequency of interaction.

Stalking is categorized as a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause them to fear for his or her safety or suffer substantial emotional distress.

In 2013, there were three reported cases of domestic violence, one case of dating violence and four cases of stalking. All of these occurred in the MMC campus.

Meanwhile, Casas said that decreases in thefts, drug usage and other “opportunistic crimes” can be attributed to the “direct correlation” between crime statistics and the number of officers on duty.

“When I have more officers, I can put more people on foot patrol, direct patrols in certain parking garages or parking lots — it does have a residual effect on the opportunistic crimes,” he said. “I think we’re at a point where our staffing levels are starting to have a consistent impact on our crime. These are good numbers.”

But it’s not just quantity that plays a part. Casas claimed that the quality of police-work is another factor.

“Those numbers are directly reflective of the professional hard work and service that our police officers provide our community here,” he said, later adding that the recent negative gun incidents are frowned upon by the department.

Casas emphasized the importance of looking at the number of incidents as opposed to percentages.

“Think about it: three out of ten is almost 30 percent. That’s a big percentage. But if you go from [three] to seven, that’s not a lot of cases when you’re talking about burglaries,” he said.

To Casas, the numbers won’t change how the police department works to combat crime.

“We will not relax — we will continue to maintain the level of policing that we’ve had,” he said.

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