NAU’s Clery Report shows increase in sexual assault, drug use
By Aurelia Acquati
NAU Police Department (NAUPD) released its annual Campus Safety and Security Report for 2011-2012 this past week, which reported an increase in sexual assaults, burglaries and drug and alcohol violations.
In compliance with the Jeanne Clery Act, NAUPD makes crime and fire statistics available to the public annually, as well as information on how to report crimes, police response, crime prevention, security, safety escort services and police authority.
Joe Tritschler, community relations officer for NAUPD, explained some of the statistics that increased from the past year. Along with burglaries and drug and alcohol violations, sexual assaults also increased, which he said does not need to be perceived as all negative, because it could indicate survivors more willing to come forward.
“As far as crimes on campus, we have had a few things go up,” Tritschler said. “Some we consider good, for example, sexual assaults. A rise is not necessarily a bad thing, because we don’t know if we’re still looking at a third of victims actually reporting, or maybe we’re getting a little bit higher and we’re going to maybe 40 percent reporting.”
Tritschler stated only an estimated one in three victims involved in sexual assault actually report it to authorities. Statistics also revealed burglaries increased, especially in unlocked dorm rooms.
“We had a couple instances where burglaries were up; 18 the previous year and 35 this year,” Tritschler said. “We’ve got to get people to lock their dorm doors. We had other crimes more serious than burglary, sexual assault included, where the doors were open.”
Tritschler explained the growth of NAU’s student population might contribute to the increase in statistics. The university is trying to find a balanced ratio of staff and faculty to students in attempts to cut down on future incidents.
“If you look at the growth of the university over the last few years, it’s really shot up,” Tritschler said. “I think the university is playing a little catch up as far as personnel and staffing, to address all the issues. The bottom line is when you have a victim, a suspect and the opportunity, it’s up to the victim — our students — to take away the opportunity.”
Alcohol and drug violations also increased within the past year, which may possibly be a result of a growing amount of participants in the illegal activities.
“Of course, alcohol [violations] went up,” Tritschler said. “Drug [violations] went up; I don’t know if there [are] more people doing it. We had more students on campus last year than the previous year.”
University Safety Aids (USAs) and emergency phones located through campus are safety features available to students at all times. USAs are NAU students hired by NAUPD to patrol the campus during the night. Their duties include reporting suspicious activity, checking buildings for any violations, assisting police officers and provide safety escorts to their destination.
“[USAs] help out in a couple different ways,” Tritschler said. “One, they’re not committed to escort, but they respond to all of those. They work in hours of darkness; [they] start about eight and end about two in the morning, seven days a week. When they’re not doing the escorts, they’re out every month [making] sure every blue phone is working and functioning properly. They also are an extra set of eyes and ears.”
The overall goal of NAUPD’s annual Campus Safety and Security Report is to inform students of all the programs and options available to them, concerning crime and safety.