With both the Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois tragedies happening within less than a year of each other, students and faculty nationwide are wondering if their school might be next. Missouri Western and the campus police department are doing everything possible to ensure that something like that doesnâ€™t happen here.
Jonathan Kelley, chief of campus police, says that theft is by far the most common crime reported on campus. Another common crime is liquor law violation. â€œI do feel that Missouri Western is a safe campus overall,â€Kelley said. Students can look at the statistics of various crimes on the Western website under Campus Safety Report. All colleges and universities publish a safety report, officially known as the Clery report.
The Clery report is published annually as a compiled list of the reported crimes on campus. The crimes are categorized and then published as statistics dating back three years.
There were a total of 48 crimes reported at Western in 2006. That number is up from 28 in 2005 but down significantly from 79 in 2004. Crimes reported include: burglary, robbery, aggravated assault, rape, motor vehicle theft and arson.
Clery reports break down the crimes according to type and location: on-campus (all buildings, land, and roads owned by Missouri Western), residential facilities, non-campus property (streets and roads that define property of Missouri Western), and public property (land and buildings on Missouri Western property that are owned by other state agencies).Â
Of the 48 crimes reported 19 occurred in the residence halls, 28 occurred elsewhere on campus and one (a count of motor vehicle theft) happened on public property.
When a student is caught for alcohol, drug or weapons violations, penalties are either arrests or referrals for disciplinary action. There were a total of 45 arrests made on campus in 2006 and 113 referrals, which is an increase from 2005, when 26 arrests made and there were 110 referrals. In 2004 there were only 10 arrests but 133 referrals.
The Clery report is named after Jeanne Cleary, a 19-year-old student at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania who was assaulted and murdered in her dorm in 1986. After her death, her parents lobbied lawmakers for legislation that would require Pennsylvania colleges and universities to publish their crime statistics. In 1998, the program was expanded nationwide and renamed in honor of Jeanne Clery.
When Missouri Western is compared to neighboring schools, it appears that crime is lower on this campus than on either Northwest or Truman. In 2006, when Missouri Western had 48 reported crimes, Northwest had a total of 58 and Truman had a total of 61.
The MWSU Police Department employs seven full-time police officers, two corporals and a police chief. The Department also uses student interns to assist during the regular semesters.
Students feel like the campus is a safe place to be. â€œMy dadâ€™s a cop and I know that they do the best job possible,â€ said freshman Dakota Carroll. â€œOn campus I feel as safe as I do anywhere else. To me, it seems that the odds of anything tragic happening are extremely slim.â€
But as the Clery report shows, bad things do happen. Kelley reminds students of the blue light emergency phones located across campus and around the residence halls and of the three parking lot emergency phones: at the east end of Lot H, the east end of Lot K, and the east end of Lot J. All phones ring directly to the MWSU police department, no dialing required.
Recently, the campus police have been given approval to bear arms. There are no new hiring policies as all officers are currently post-certified law enforcement officers, who now only need training with their specific weapon. Kelley said that the officers are all pleased to have additional resources to help protect the students.
Western is also scheduled to begin installing a three-part emergency notification system, which will include a PA system in the clock tower, a speaker systemÂ in the residence halls and other campus buildings, a text message alert system and emergency telephones that use each classroomâ€™s ethernet connection. â€œIâ€™ve always felt safe on campus, but Iâ€™m glad that the campus is going the extra mile for our protection,â€ said sophomore Julia McBeth.