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Crime rates have dropped on campus

Published: Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, October 26, 2011 19:10

The crime rates at Kean University have decreased on campus since last year, according to numbers released by the university.

The liquor law violations dropped significantly from 70 to 28 on campus and 69 to 19 in Residence Halls from 2009 to 2010, according to "The Guide," Kean University's annual publication that provides federally required campus data in a variety of subject areas. Drug related violations went down from 29 to 20 on campus and from 25 to 13 in Residence Halls.

Burglary statistics on campus were at 65 in 2009 and are at 21 for 2010.

"The change since last year mainly has to do with the police and student body being vigilant on campus and reporting any suspicions right away to campus police." said the Director of Campus Police, Adam Shubsda.

Only, motor vehicle theft – which went from one to five -- and aggravated assault, which grew  from zero to three, showed an increase. There was no explanation provided from the school as to why this might be but precautions are taking place.

He said as the university expands, the police's responsibilities have grown as well.

More security cameras have been installed since last year and there are now more security patrols in the security booths every afternoon, and most evenings in the parking lots such as the  Vaughn Eames and the Stem building lots, said Shubsda.

The bulk of the crimes reported involve people who are not students here, and incidents do not necessarily represent students' behavior, explained Shubsda.

"I am impressed with the student conduct I've seen at Kean," he said. "The RA's (resident advisors) and RHD's (resident hall directors) promote constructive behavior with the police and are trained to create awareness," said Shubsda.

One RA agreed. Brittany McCarson, RA of the new freshmen dorms, said the RAs have a strong relationship with the campus police and everyone works closely together to enforce Kean's safety policies. She also said a new "advocate" room is available to residents to go if they ever feel unsafe.

"This year the communication between the RA's and campus police has really improved," McCarson said. "We are trying to show the residents that campus police is on the student's side and they do their best to protect us."

The security and campus police are more visible this year, she said,  and it is beneficial that they have installed more blue emergency lights around the residence halls, said McCarson.

"I feel safer from last year because of the amount of cops I see now and the new emergency stations provided," said resident of Kean University for more than three years, Hannah Byrom.

Although the police department has taken action in decreasing some of the crime rates, some Kean students still say it's not enough.    

Student resident Lauren Kusik said last fall semester when she had to leave campus at 3:30 a.m. to get to her internship at 4 a.m. that she would call campus police every morning to pick her up and take her to her car.

"In order to feel safe I need to go out of my way and ask for assistance," she said. "I think the campus police needs to make more of a presence when it gets dark out rather than the unnecessary over abundance when it is bright and sunny during the middle of the day," said Kusik.

Another student who lived on campus for three years does not feel safe with the amount of security she sees at night. Prior to getting attacked on campus last year by someone under the influence of drugs and alcohol, she thought Kean University had good security.

"I'm not as scared during week days, but Thursday nights I will not walk around campus alone. I keep my keys in between my fingers of a hand, if i need to hit. I also now have pepper spray, which I keep out ready to use on my way to the parking lots," said student JoAnne Small.

She also commented on the specific security she sees on campus.

"I still don't see as many cops at night when they are needed. In the parking lots the security in the booth barely keeps the blinds open. They say there are cameras but cameras just record it, not stop it," said Small.

The police department added one new officer since last year. The department has a staff of 49,  including 15 police officers, two detectives, one detective sergeant, six sergeants, two lieutenants, one associate director and one chief, according to Kean spokesman Stephen Hudik.

"The Kean University Police practices a community approach to policing, which emphasizes building relationships with all constituencies on campus so as to better understand specific needs and concerns," said Hudik.

The police department is involved in training initiatives with local county task forces. Some include the domestic violence and sexual assault response teams that provide expertise and services for crime victims, according to Hudik.

"The Kean University Police work closely with the local law enforcement authorities at the local and county levels in efforts to promote awareness and to reduce criminal activity on campus," said Hudik.

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