It seems the “Butler Bubble” could be starting to burst.
But is this skewed perception, or reality?
This year has been fraught with stories of thefts, break-ins and suspicious persons, leading the staff at The Butler Collegian to question not only our safety, but how much Butler University Police Department is doing to protect us.
After further investigation, it seems that the students, not BUPD, may be the ones that need to be doing more for safety.
We were prompted to examine the real truth about crime and safety on campus after last week’s article in The Collegian, “Peeping Tom raises questions about campus security.”
This came just two weeks after another article about a car theft and theft from a motor vehicle.
It all sounded pretty serious, but is campus crime really up?
Not exactly. While there has been an increase in vehicle thefts and thefts from motor vehicles, total reports to BUPD are down. At this time last year, BUPD had received 217 calls. This compares to just 160 reports this year.
Andrew Ryan, assistant chief of police, said that the increases in these kinds of crime, especially thefts from vehicles, is due in part to students not being proactive about crime prevention.
“If you take away the opportunity for crime, it isn’t going to happen,” Ryan said. “If there is property in plain sight, it takes literally seconds to break in a window and go.
“It has to be a joint effort.”
In an interview for the “peeping Tom” article, Chief of Police Ben Hunter said, “We don’t prevent. Crime occurs. We’re in a position to mitigate and stop crime if it occurs.”
This caught our attention, as it is our opinion that a police department should not only mitigate, but also prevent crime.
However, in a second interview with Hunter, he clarified his meaning.
“You never know what crime will be stopped by a police officer because they stop someone due to suspicious activity,” Hunter said. “But if you are predetermined to commit a crime, you’re going to do it. If you’re going to wait around for
a four-hour span, you’re going to have the opportunity to commit that crime.
“The prevention side of that is us making calls, us being in the neighborhood, us being proactive.” Hunter said BUPD is being proactive by increasing its visibility by making patrol cars more visible at night and making sure the new directional signs on campus list BUPD in red.
“If someone is cruising campus and they see that they go ‘wow, there’s a police department here.’ All those things we do to help mitigate crime,” Hunter said.
Another concern brought forth in the “peeping Tom” article was that BUPD’s priority is to break up parties, not break up crime.
However, Ryan said when there is an incident that is reported, such as a noise complaint from a neighbor, BUPD must respond to that call.
“A couple of weekends ago we had a situation where there were hundreds of people in a home,” he said. “It had to be addressed because there were underage drinkers, they were being loud and there were complaints from the neighbors.
“That takes resources off the streets when you have to take all your officers over there and deal with the situation, but it needed to be dealt with.”
Hunter said students should realize it is almost inevitable that if they have the speakers turned up and “the keg out on the front porch” that someone will likely call in a complaint.
From this, we at The Butler Collegian understand it is our job as students to be responsible when going out on a Friday or Saturday night.
“It really comes down to being vigilant about your surroundings,” Hunter said. “At BUPD, we are trying to be more proactive with our controls.”
We at The Collegian agree. It is important both for BUPD to be visible both on and off campus, but also for we as students to be aware of our surroundings and on the look out for suspicious people or activities.
“Make sure you walk in large groups, make sure you use the BUPD escort service, make sure you drink alcohol responsibly,” Hunter said. “Tag your TVs, record your serial numbers [on electronics], all of that can help prevent crime.”
Hunter said he knows these messages can sometimes get lost in the shuffle of everyday life, but we agree—it is imperative that we not only depend on the presence of BUPD, but that we look after ourselves.
Maybe it’s not the best idea to walk home from the library alone at 1 a.m., and we should probably think twice before leaving our iPods sitting on our front seat.
If we appreciate the presence of BUPD on campus and take simple precautions, we can protect ourselves and campus.