UConn’s annual fire and safety report follows new guidelines
Switch from FBI to Clery Act definitions gives misleading increases in crime rates
Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 23:10
UConn recently released its annual fire and safety report.
The report shows 52 burglaries in 2011, compared to only 25 and 26 in 2009 and 2010, respectively. The data also seems to show significant increases in the number of drug violation referrals, jumping from just 9 in 2009 to 100 in 2011.
Lieutenant Magdalena Vargas explained the previously used FBI guidelines for UCR data are responsible for these apparent hikes.
Vargas said in past years the crime reports released by the Division of Public Safety have used the FBI definitions. However, this year, they worked with D. Stafford and Associates, a consulting firm that specializes in campus safety, in order to make this year’s data entirely compliant with the Clery Act definitions.
“The Clery Act requires statistics from a larger area than UCR data does,” Vargas said. “The definitions and guidelines for representing the data are different as well.”
The Clery Act is a 1999 federal mandate requiring all institutions of higher education to disclose information about crime on their campuses and in the surrounding communities. In addition to providing these statistics, the Division of Public Safety must also provide a Uniform Crime Report (UCR) to the FBI. However, the statistics required by each of them are very different.
“The crime we saw last year was about the same as every other year,” Vargas said. “There’s always room for improvement, but we have a very safe campus.”
The police department is also hiring five new officers this year as well as continuing to push education about underage drinking in freshman seminar courses.
The report also showed fire damages were an estimated $265 in 2011, which is a three-year low. Arson fires at the Towers dormitories caused the 2010 bill to be over $22,000. In 2011, there were only 10 fires reported fires and most of them were unintentional cooking fires.
Fire Marshall Dana Barrow said new fire prevention technologies as well as education efforts have contributed to UConn’s fire safety.
“Every dormitory is equipped with sprinklers and smoke or heat detective alarms that communication directly with the fire department,” Barrow said. “Even if there is a fire, we’re able to quickly address it.”
The fire department also conducted 247 fire drills in 2011 as well as held safety demonstrations and lectures. This year, they hope to continue the effort by offering fire safety demonstrations to first-year students and educational seminars to residence assistants.