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Liquor law violations increase

Eileen Duffy | Thursday, October 5, 2006

While Notre Dame Security/Police’s (NDSP) annual report shows a major drop in larceny, the findings released last Friday point to steady increases in liquor law violations and non-forcible burglaries.

In an e-mail sent Friday, NDSP urged the campus community to read its Safety Brochure, which includes security and safety information as well as crime statistics for the years 2003-2005.

The report, which is required to be presented to the public under the federal Jeanne Clery act, presents data from each of the years in the areas of burglary, larceny, sex offenses and drug and liquor law violations, among other crimes.

Crimes are classified into geographic areas: campus property (including residence halls), public property and non-campus property – that is, University-owned property outside of the main campus, NDSP Associate Director Phillip Johnson said.

Burglary is a crime that plagues the Notre Dame community more and more each year: 49 reported being burgled in 2003, 62 in 2004 and 87 in 2005. Non-forcible burglaries continually make up the overwhelming majority of those crimes: 80 of the 87 burglaries in 2005 were non-forcible – a statistic Johnson said would be easy to change.

“These are people that are preying on students’ vulnerabilities,” he said. “One of the things we know we can do is protect our property and prevent those non-forcible burglaries by locking office doors and residence halls while we’re away or while we’re sleeping.”

While non-forcible burglaries drive the number of burglaries up each year, the number of forcible burglaries remained at seven from 2004 to 2005.

“We’re covering 1200 acres and over 100 buildings,” Johnson said. “That doesn’t mean [forcible burglaries] are acceptable at all, but it isn’t a large number given the population and the geographic area that’s served here.”

The number of liquor law arrests has varied from year to year, but the number of liquor law violations reported to the Office of Residence Life and Housing (ORLH) has more than doubled since 2003, with 290 students referred to ORLH in 2005.

Whether a student is arrested or referred to ORLH “depends on the circumstances,” Johnson said.

“For example, a person might be intoxicated and transported to the hospital. We’d likely do a referral. Or last weekend during the football weekend activities, we arrested a number of underage drinkers,” he said. “Police exercise their best judgment based on the situation at hand.”

Regardless of what the policeman chooses to do, Johnson thinks the numbers speak for NDSP’s – and the University’s – firm stance on alcohol abuse.

“These numbers of liquor arrests and referrals reaffirm our concern over the use of alcohol on campus and how it impacts the quality of life in our community,” he said. “…We’re very serious about addressing issues of alcohol abuse on our campus.”

Larceny, however – meaning theft not involving unlawful entry, like stealing a bike in South Quad or a backpack in LaFortune, Johnson said – has fallen from 459 reported cases to 365 in 2004.

“In that sense, we had some improvement,” Johnson said. “We got people to keep track of their property.”

In response to the statistics – as well as more detailed daily crime figures – NDSP works to determine problem areas and how best to deploy its resources, Johnson said. The group has also established Safety Beat, a program that sends out a crime prevention message about every two weeks, Johnson said. That e-mail includes a map of the South Bend Police Department’s crime data for off-campus students, he said.

“This is a partnership,” Johnson said. “NDSP plays a role in maintaining campus safety but we truly rely on our community and how they choose to live.”