UI crime statistics rise sharply

BY SAM LANE | DECEMBER 03, 2010 7:20 AM

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A sharp increase in alcohol-related and overall arrests at the University of Iowa this year can be attributed to increased enforcement, not necessarily an increased number of crimes, officials say.

Data released by the state Board of Regents on Thursday show the number of charges for the quarter ranging from July 1 to Sept. 30 have increased by 117.8 percent — from 370 in 2009 to 806 this year.

But that doesn't necessarily mean more students are getting in trouble, said Charles Green, the assistant vice president for the UI police, noting that UI students were only responsible for 255 of this quarter's 806 charges. A comparison with previous years was unavailable on Thursday.

Instead, Green said, the increase can be largely attributed to increased enforcement downtown and during tailgating.

"People always say it's the students — that's not what we're seeing," he said. "Students aren't getting the credit they deserve."

Data also shows the number of liquor-law violation arrests has jumped from 109 from Jan. 31, 2009 through Sept. 30, 2009 compared with 534 during the same period this year. Of that 534, 393 arrests have come during the July 1-Sept. 30 quarter. Similarly, the UI has experienced an 800 percent increase in disorderly conduct arrests.

The department implemented what it calls the "Power Shift" this year, in which five UI officers patrol downtown between Wednesday and Saturday nights. Last year, the patrol had no such presence.

"We could only do that hit and miss on Fridays and Saturdays," Green said of the downtown patrolling last year, and the force "wanted to collectively address concerns."

Additionally, the university's "Think before you drink" campaign to curb overconsumption during football tailgating has created a spike, Green said. The increased enforcement on gamedays has also come primarily in this quarter he said, which would contribute to the quarter-to-quarter increase.

UI Vice President for Student Services Tom Rocklin said he wasn't surprised about the increase, noting more police on the streets looking for alcohol violations will result in encountering more people who are violating alcohol laws.

"I think we've had dramatically increased enforcement," he said.

The report, which also includes data from the other two state universities, is scheduled to be received by the regents at its meeting on Dec. 9.

Regent Robert Downer said though the statistics may be alarming to outside viewers such as parents who don't have an explanation for the increase, the enforcement is better than the alternative.

"If you didn't have any campus security doing anything, not doing any arrests, you could argue salaciously there wasn't any sort of criminal activity taking place on or adjacent to campus," Downer said. "That obviously wouldn't be a reasonable approach to take."

DI reporter Alison Sullivancontributed to this report.

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