Crime rates increased in Butler area in 2010

Photo by Maria PorterThe Butler University area has higher numbers than it did last year in eight of 17 crime sub-categories, according to a new report.

Aggravated assault, motor vehicle theft, arson, forcible and non-forcible burglary, liquor law arrests, liquor and drug law violations referred for disciplinary actions and illegal weapon possession arrests each went up by at least one incident in 2010 from the year before.

The numbers are part of Butler University’s 2010 Comprehensive Combined Annual Security Report and Annual Fire Safety Report, sent to the Butler Community Sept. 28, which includes a breakdown of Butler’s crime statistics for 2008-2010.

Liquor law violations referred for disciplinary actions increased from 134 in 2009 to 288 in 2010, and the number of liquor law arrests rose from three to nine.

“We’re confident [the statistics] are accurate, but they can be misleading,” BUPD Police Chief Ben Hunter said. “What concerns me is what’s behind the numbers.”

Hunter said that the rise in liquor law violations did not worry him as much as the number of dangerously high blood alcohol levels recorded last year.

Hunter said that one specific incident last year involved a person recording a blood alcohol level of .38—almost five times the legal limit.

“You don’t know if it’s an increase in incidents or a change in people reporting,” Dean of Student Affairs Sally Click said.

Sometimes isolated incidents can distort the statistics.

In 2010 for example, a single off-campus party around Halloween resulted in 50 to 60 of the 288 total liquor law violations.

Click estimated that around 15 alcohol-related medical responses have already been reported this year, and that number is higher than all of fall semester last year.

Irene Stevens, dean of student life, said that September and October have the most alcohol-related incidents, primarily due to freshmen’s newly acquired freedom while living away from home.

On top of this newfound independence is the fact that high-profile events like Homecoming and Halloween are in the fall.

This year is the first that Butler is implementing an alcohol task force, which is working on gathering opinions and information from around campus about views on alcohol.

They intend to have recommendations for student services by the spring term.

“It would be irresponsible of us to not address these things,” Click said.

Click also said that student services has been working to provide more late-night programs to help students “to release stress and cope in a different way” than using alcohol or drugs.

Drug law violations have steadily increased since 2008, from six to 13 between 2008 and 2009, and to 19 in 2010.

Stevens said that drugs are most commonly being used as an alternative to alcohol by students to help them relax and cope.

Stevens also said that marijuana is the most commonly used drug, but rare cases involving heroine or cocaine have been reported.

2010 saw a spike in forcible burglaries as the total number reported jumped from four to 11. Stevens said that most burglaries, robberies, larcenies and related crimes are committed by non-students and are primarily driven by the current status of the economy.

“College campuses nationally are a target,” Stevens said, “and the fact that Butler is in such a metropolitan area makes it even more prone.

Although there have been some increases in crime sub-categories, the statistics are relative, and Butler’s total numbers are smaller than some larger campuses like Indiana University or Purdue University.

“Everything goes in cycles,” Stevens said.

“I think we’re a pretty safe campus, comparatively speaking.”

Both Stevens and Click cited Butler’s focus on education through conduct corrections rather than immediate arrests and expulsion.

“We need to watch out for ourselves, make wise decisions and watch out for each other,” Click said.



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