Campus safety is an issue of particular sensitivity and one that the University of Maryland Police Department (UMPD) takes very seriously. In a meeting with a class of journalism students at the University of Maryland, Sgt. Rosanne Hoaas discussed statistics associated with thefts, rapes, burglaries, robberies, aggravated assaults, and criminal homicide on the university campus.
She explained a series of trends observed with campus crime reports and offered several safety services that UMPD has provided for students. The sergeant’s presentation highlighted the importance of safety as a mutual effort between the campus community and the police force, concluding that “crime prevention is a shared responsibility.”
Sgt. Hoaas expanded on details of campus crimes reports and explained the processes by which the police respond to crime. Thefts, for example, constitute a significant portion of crime reports on campus, averaging about 365 larceny-theft reports from 2007 to 2016. Robberies and burglaries, which often occur as a result of careless mistakes on the part of students, also numbered high on crime reports. From 2012 to 2016, a total of 16 robberies and 241 burglaries were reported to the University of Maryland Police. Aggravated assaults and rapes are two of the most sensitive crimes reported to the police, with rape being “the most underreported crime that we get,” Sgt. Hoaas said.
According to Sgt. Hoaas, the police’s ability to respond to crime has dramatically increased with technological advancements including security cameras and stronger security measures including blue light phones which immediately connect to a police officer and walking escort services.
While elements are fear are often associated with reporting crime to the police, several campus resources are available to ensure the community’s safety and provide means of expressing concerns to officials. The Campus Advocates Respond and Educate (CARE) program is one such resource that provides assistance to individuals who have suffered from sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, and sexual harassment.
Several trends are associated with crime reporting to the police. Mental health related calls are often done when students leave home and begin campus life. Burglaries are often cases where the perpetrators consider campus holidays and breaks when the campus life is less active. The weather also plays a significant role in crime statistics; extreme weather is usually associated with less crime activity while optimal weather conditions are associated with more crime reports.
In consideration of such patterns, Sgt. Hoaas advised students to be cognizant of their surroundings, take security measures when engaging in weekend and holiday activities, and share the responsibility of crime prevention by reporting to the police. But above all, she advised students to stick together. Sometimes, all it takes to deflect danger is a nice group walk across campus.