Annual crime report shows increase in drug violations

Esther Peralez has an actual badge that says “SHERRIF,” but for the vice president of student affairs, the increase in drug law violations is more about education than enforcement. “I’m really about accountability. I’m really about teachable moments and educational moments,” she said. “So if we say that there are no drugs or alcohol on campus, why are we turning our heads if there is?” The release of the 2010 Annual Clery Crime Report revealed increases in arrests and referrals for several crimes. Drug law violation referrals increased by 337 percent while arrests increased by 57 percent in the residence halls. Drug arrests on campus increased by 90 percent. “Drugs and alcohol are probably not a good choice,” Peralez said, “but for many of you, you’re probably going to try it.” Peralez would rather call those people in and discuss the opportunities that the students are jeopardizing. “For some it’s scary enough that they stop and you don’t see them again,” she said. “For others, they keep pushing the envelope and finally you’re suspended.” For the first time last year, Peralez said that all of the Residence Hall Directors had their Master’s degrees. She believes that the increase is due to the maturity level of the RHDs and their willingness to work with students and discover drug problems. Police Chief Jon Kelley also attributes the increase in referrals to the awareness and education of students by Residential Life and Student Affairs. Despite several increases, Kelley believes that the report still shows that Western’s campus is safe. “I see no murders and no manslaughters,” Kelley said. “I’m happy about that.” Kelley said that most of the drug related arrests are for drug paraphernalia or marijuana. “You’ve got to remember, we live on a college campus,” he said, “and when you live on a college campus those things are going to happen.” Putting things into perspective, Kelley said that out of the roughly 1000 residential students, Western police only arrested 19 for drug law violations. From 2009 to 2010, the number of liquor law violations went from 20 to 28, or a 40 percent increase. “I don’t think drug arrests are any more serious than alcohol arrests,” Kelley said. “If you look across the country, alcohol kills more people every year than drugs — alcohol related incidents.” Mel Klinkner, vice president for financial planning and administration, believes that the report reflects that Western is a safe campus. “I think we have heightened the awareness of it,” Klinkner said. “I think it’s always difficult to determine what causes the change from year to year. Sometimes you can point to it.” The largest increase in the report was the increase in referrals, which Klinkner attributes to the education of Student Affairs and Residential Life. “To me it’s more of students taking ownership in it,” Klinkner said. Another staggering number is the increase in sexual offenses. In 2010 the number of forcible sexual offenses increased by two, which was zero in 2009. “There’s a couple of sexual offenses,” Kelley said, “and of course we always want to work on those and refer those people to the areas they need to be referred to for their benefit.” While the number of forcible sexual offenses has increased, Kelley said that neither of these were offenses by strangers to the victims. Kelley believes that the reason this number is low is because of the proactive enforcement of the other violations. “We take the drug offenses and alcohol offenses seriously,” Kelley said. “But the majority of crimes that are committed today, those types or crimes, are committed by people who are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.”

Clery crime reports released

The Clery Report, an annual report that discloses information about crimes on and around Western’s campus, shows that Missouri Western’s crime rate is decreasing from previous years. The report is required by the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, which requires any college or university that participates in federal financial aid programs to issue the report. This is so everyone on and around the campus can be aware of any violent crimes that have happened in the past years. Freshman Samantha White says she hasn’t had any issues with crimes since she has been attending Missouri Western. “I think the campus is pretty safe,” White said. “I have never had any problems and I have never felt unsafe.” According to the report, Western’s campus has been increasing in campus safety. Missouri Western’s Chief of Police Jonathan Kelley agrees with the report. “I think Western is a very safe campus and I believe that is evidenced by our most recent Clery statistics,” Kelley said. The report is divided into two sections. One is crimes reported to Missouri Western Police Department by type, such as burglary, assault, and sex offenses. The second section is arrests and referrals due to liquor, drug, or weapons law violations. The report records the statistics for the last three years. The report stated that in 2009, a total of seven crimes were reported to the Missouri Western Police Department. All seven reported crimes were burglary, and five were reported to have happened in the residence halls. This is compared to 18 crimes reported in 2008 and 41 reported in 2007. Of the 18 crimes in 2008, 15 were burglary and nine happened in the residence halls. One was aggravated assault on campus, one was a non-forcible sex offense in the residence halls, and one was motor vehicle theft on public property that is on or adjoins Western’s campus, such as the conservation department. Crime rates have gone down on Western’s campus dramatically in only two years. Arrests and referrals due to liquor, drug, or weapons law violations have not. According to the report, these have actually increased since 2007. A total of 83 arrests and referrals happened in 2009, compared with 86 in 2008 and 75 in 2007. This could simply be due the increased number of students enrolled at Missouri Western. Many arrests and referrals happened in the residence halls. 43 out of 53 liquor law violations in 2009 happened in the residences halls, and 18 out of 27 drug law violations in 2009 happened in the residence halls. The best way to avoid being the victim of a crime is to be aware of campus safety. The Missouri Western Police Department website has a guide to campus safety. Kelley says that the police department provides daily crime logs as well as the yearly crime report, and helps raise safety awareness. [caption id="attachment_3473" align="alignleft" width="350" caption="Graphic | Andy Inman"][/caption] “Officers also work with other departments and student groups to present safety information to the community at various venues,” Kelley said.

Western hosts court of appeals

Missouri Western is pleased to announce that the Western District of the Missouri Court of Appeals will convene court on campus for the thirteenth year in a row. The Missouri Court of Appeals function is to hear appeals from previously held trials in the given district area. The appealing party usually feels that there were errors in their trail that could be grounds for a retrial. Three Missouri judges; Chief Judge Lisa White Hardwick, Buchanan County Judge Keith Marquart and Judge Gary Witt will preside of the appeal hearings. They will hear the arguments for appeal in five cases. Hardwick is in her first year as the Western Districts Chief Judge. She has practiced law in the Kansas City area for over 15 years and has been a member of the appeals court for a total of nine years. Hardwick feels that it is important for the Missouri Court of Appeals to convene outside of their normal Kansas City court so that more of the public is exposed to how appeals process of the legal system works. “This gives individuals an opportunity to observe a part of the judicial system they normally do not see. We hope those attending will gain a better understanding of the of the courts function,” Hardwick said. David Tushaus, associate professor of legal studies, likes the benefits of the Missouri Court of Appeals coming to Missouri Western. Tushaus feels that it is especially valuable to criminal justice and legal studies majors. “It’s important for students to get out and see how one aspect of the legal system works,” Tushaus said. Tushaus stated that other benefits to having the court come to Missouri Western is that students don’t have to travel to attend and that it does not cost the university anything to bring the court here. Missouri Western sophomore, Jacob Scott, legal studies major, says he plans on attending the hearings. Scott stated that being a declared legal studies major makes it mandatory for him to attend. When asked how he felt about the Missouri Court of Appeals coming to Missouri Western, Scott said, “It’s a good opportunity for students to get out there and see how the criminal justice system works first hand. I am glad to have it come to Missouri Western.” In between cases, students will have the opportunity to ask the three-judge panel any questions they may have, as long as it does not directly relate to a case. Students are encouraged to attend, even if it is not required of them. The court will convene at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 13 in Potter Hall Theater. The event is free and open to the public.

Clery Report shows decrease in crimes

Crime on campus, whether it be theft or homicide, is a reality that colleges and universities have to be aware of and prepared for. Looking at the recently issued Clery Report, it appears that Missouri Western has a handle on crime. The Clery Report is a yearly report disclosing crime statistics and information about college and universities for the prior three years. The report came out of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, named after a 19-year-old student from Pennsylvania who was raped and murdered in a campus residence hall in 1986. Since 1990, all colleges and universities participating in federal financial aid programs are required to issue the report. According to this year’s Clery Report, Western had a total of 109 crimes from 2006-2008, plus 103 arrests and 171 referrals for liquor law, drug law and weapons law violations. Of those crimes, the most frequent was burglary, a total of 94. Other crimes committed include seven motor vehicle thefts, four aggravated assaults, one robbery and two non-forcible sexual offenses. From the perspective of University Police Chief Jon Kelley, the statistics of the Clery Report show that Western is a relatively safe campus devoid of the more serious crimes larger campuses deal with. “Personally, I think Missouri Western is a very safe campus,” Kelley said. “We do get some reports of less serious crimes against persons and…property crimes, but fortunately we have not had many reports of the most serious crimes.” According to the Department of Education crime report web site, located at http://www.ope.ed.gov/security/index.aspx, Northwest Missouri State University has had 134 crimes, 47 arrests and 310 disciplinary actions over the past three years, while the University of Missouri has had 115 crimes, 669 arrests and 1,557 disciplinary actions. Sean O’Reilly, acting director of residential life, credits university police for the relatively low crime statistics on campus, including the residence halls. “They’re a visible presence on campus,” O’Reilly said. “Over the last three to four years, they’ve worked very hard to make sure crimes are documented in the halls.” Furthermore, O’Reilly notes that the University Police Department has a close working relationship with the St. Joseph Police Department, an assessment Kelley agrees with. “Currently we share a radio system with the [St. Joseph and Buchanan County] Police Departments,” Kelly said. “…we [also] partner with the St. Joseph Police Department on other programs throughout the year.” There’s no question that the crimes on campus, although low by comparison, are nevertheless an issue that is taken very seriously. University Police have posted Clery Act Timely Warning policies in compliance with the Clery Act all around campus, informing students of recently frequent crimes, including burglary and especially theft, which Kelley cites as the most frequently reported crime on campus. Further putting the crime statistics in perspective, O’Reilly tells a story about a colleague at Indiana University and the types of crimes she had to deal with. “[In a] 1,500 persona complex, she would deal with, on a given weekend, 25 to 30 alcohol incidents in her area alone,” O’Reilly said. “On a given weekend here, we don’t have all those things happening.” To keep those types of crimes from happening, the student body needs to take certain precautions to protect themselves. Don’t carry large amounts of money on your person, don’t leave expensive items like iPods and laptops out in the open, make sure doors and windows are locked at all times and take the time to read the Timely Warning policies posted all around campus. Crime might not be as common or dangerous at Western in comparison to Northwest, but that’s no reason to create more statistics. For more information, go to http://www.missouriwestern.edu/safetyreport/ for Missouri Western State University’s Clery report.

Resident faces felony charges in marijuana bust

St. Joseph Police officer Herrera was working an off-duty job at East Hills Mall on Jan. 29, 2009 when he arrested Western student Steven C. Jones for stealing from a shop in the mall. Upon searching Jones at the time of arrest, the officer discovered two baggies containing green plant material known to be marijuana, empty baggies and over $200 cash. All of the evidence was seized and the arresting officer alerted the K-9 unit to Jones’ campus address where the drug-sniffing dog indicated at Jones’ door that there was in fact drugs’ in the dorm room. Officers then obtained a search warrant based on the dog’s reaction and found in Jones’ room one bag of marijuana and a second bag containing 14 individually packaged baggies that contained marijuana. Jones was later charged with a felony possession with intent to distribute marijuana on a college property. Jones’ arraignment is scheduled for Feb. 6. Information contained in the statement of probable cause signed by Steve McClintick, an officer with the SJPD, indicates that Jones will be expelled from Western. Michael Speros, Assistant Dean of Residential Life, and Duane Bruce, Associate Dean of Student Development, both declined to comment on the status of Jones’enrollment citing regulations from the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). According to the student handbook, “It is the responsibility of the Associate Dean of Student Development…to implement through an informal disposition the judicial sanction of immediate temporary dismissal from the university.” That means that Bruce should have dismissed Jones, temporarily, immediately upon learning of the crimes Jones’ was arrested for. Reports of Jones’ alleged crimes come only a week after Kenisha Jenkins, another Western student, was charged with felony stealing, when she alleged that she had been robbed of three bank bags belonging to her employer, Kentucky Fried Chicken. Police found no evidence of the robbery in surveillance footage of the area. Jenkins was charged with stealing after the money was recovered in her home. Drug crimes in residence halls have decreased overall since 2005 when five people were arrested, six arrests in 2006, and one in 2007. Although drug crimes on the entire campus spiked in 2006 at 13, then dropped back down to three in 2007. Burglary remains the number one crime committed on campus and almost doubled from 21 in 2005 to 41 in 2007. Liquor law violations places second on the crime list. In 2005, 17 arrests were made on campus involving alcohol. That number rose to 28 in 2006, then reduced by one in 2007 to 27.