Despite spike in crime this semester, RUPD says overall trend is declining
Since the start of classes in August, students saw nearly twice as many crime alerts as they did last spring
Although students saw nearly twice as many crime alerts this semester than the last, in general, crime at Rutgers is declining, said Kenneth Cop, the executive director of Public Safety and chief of University Police.
“If you looked at the academic year '15 and '16 compared to '16 and '17, you’ll see a 39 percent decrease in serious crime that resulted in crime alerts. So we are definitely on the decline,” Cop said.
At the time of The Daily Targum’s interview on Oct. 26, Cop said that there had been four crime alerts at the same point last semester.
There have been seven crime alerts since classes started back up in August, but Cop said the general trend is still decreasing.
An alert was sent out this weekend after a shooting on Hamilton Street. Paul Fischer, the captain of the Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD), said in an email that the incident is still under investigation and anyone with information is encouraged to call the New Brunswick Police Department’s Detective Bureau.
“We have one of the most comprehensive systems in the country,” Cop said regarding crime alert notifications.
He said that not only does RUPD give out the information required by the Clery Act, but they also give out notifications for crimes that occur in off-campus locations.
The Clery Act protects students by providing transparency around campus crime policy and statistics, according to the Clery Act website.
Some reasons for the overall decrease in crime at Rutgers include efforts to better educate the public, increased partnership with the Rutgers community, an increased number of officers and a more strategic use of their staff, he said.
Brian Emmett, a detective lieutenant with RUPD, said prevention through education is a priority for the department.
“Our community policing program is very important to us and we stress prevention through education,” Emmett said.
He said community policing hosts programs at the student orientations, in the residence halls and at the student centers throughout the year.
There, they give out important safety tips like creating a personal safety plan, knowing the route before going out, sticking to well-lit locations, traveling in groups and going to places that are familiar and safe.
Emmett also said students are advised to contact RUPD if they see suspicious activities around them, and students now have the ability to report suspicious activity through text.
“So sometimes folks in the college-age bracket aren’t so fond of picking up the phone and talking to the police dispatcher,” Emmett said. “This is another method where they don’t have to be directly involved necessarily or be seen by the group … but can still get the information to us and we can respond in a timely manner.”
To connect, Emmett said students should text “RUNB” to the number 69050. If the message is successfully delivered to the police department, students will receive an auto-reply, which then puts them in conversation with the police dispatcher and the 911 communications center.
“We put it out there a lot. We like to remind people about that because you don’t want to be stuck and think how am I going to get from A to B and be concerned about that,” Fischer said, regarding the RUPD's security escort service, which is available to students, faculty and staff.
Cop said texts have their place, but RUPD prefers phone calls because it sends valuable information faster.
“It is important to note that the students in the community, the safety and security of the students, is the most important thing for us,” Cop said.