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Clery Report reminds us to take precautions against crime

The Ohio University Police Department recently released its 2013 Clery Report, which includes statistics from calendar years 2010, 2011, and 2012. The report showed no alarming trends in campus safety, although there were a few noticeable changes in the figures compared to the 2010 and 2011.

Several of the 2012 campus crime statistics showed that Ohio University's Athens Campus is a relatively safe campus environment for everyone, however; extra safety precautions should always be taken against victim-based crimes such as burglary.

In 2012, the total number of reported burglaries was 42, but only one of the items was taken by force.

Ohio University Police Chief Andrew Powers said students should not take for granted the relatively safe atmosphere of Athens and should continue to take safety precautions such as always locking doors and windows and not leaving valuables unattended.

The Clery Report numbers don't always tell the whole story.

For instance, although the total number of drug law arrests increased from 153 in 2010 to 157 in 2012, the number of on-campus residential drug law arrests decreased from 70 in 2010 to 47 in 2012, a 23 percent decline. 

Powers said higher numbers can be caused by a multitude of variables.

"There are several factors that affect the amount of reported crimes on a college campus, including the number of officers on duty and even the weather – as there are usually more liquor violations during unseasonably warm winters," said Powers.

Another example of how the Clery numbers can be misleading is the sharp decrease in forcible rape cases reported in 2011 when there was four. Those same numbers totaled 15 in 2010 to 14 in 2012, making 2011 an abnormality.

Powers points out that studies have determined that rape is probably the least reported crime to law enforcement, with some experts estimating that more than 80 percent of rapes go unreported. However, he said he is encouraged that Ohio University
continues to go above and beyond to educate its students about sexual assault and increase the resources in place for the victims, such as the recent hiring of Kat Wargo as the new program outreach coordinator for the university's Sexual Advocacy Program.  

Because the Clery Report often deals with small numbers in many categories, Powers said it gives the public only a part of the picture of safety at Ohio University. He advises students and parents to also take into account other crime reports like the Uniform Crime Reports, the number of campus crime alerts issued in a given year and the number of crimes per 1,000 people in a specific population.

When comparing the amount of crimes this way, Powers said Ohio University's Athens campus appears to be safer than many campuses of similar size and makeup as well as many residential communities in the surrounding area, including suburbs. 

What has remained unchanged throughout the years of crime reporting is that students should always do everything they can to
guard themselves against crime. Powers said that students can help prevent crime by being aware of their surroundings.

"The most helpful thing students can do is to deny someone the opportunity to commit a crime," he said.

To access the 2013 Clery Report, visit the Ohio University Police Department website at http://www.ohio.edu/police.