The university released their annual Security and Fire Safety Report in December which relays crime report statistics, security protocols and safety resources on campus.
The report is mandated by the Clery Act, a federal requirement that universities disclose specific information about crime on campus and security protocol.
“[The Security and Fire Safety Report] is so students and families have an understanding about what happens at their particular school,” said Assistant Chief of Police Chuck Garber.
The Clery Act also dictates what campuses report.
“They prescribe what crimes are to be reported and what the definition of the crime [is],” said Garber.
This also influences how VUPD conducts investigations.
“Every case a campus police officer goes on he or she has to ask particular questions to get facts,” said Garber. “When I was a city cop, I didn’t have to worry about [asking those questions]... It makes a difference what part of the building a crime occurs in for on-campus resident living. So there’s more questions asked.”
According to the Clery Center, the Clery Act was signed into law in 1990 by then-President George HW Bush in response to the advocacy of the parents of Jeanne Clery, a Lehigh University student who was raped and murdered in her dorm room in 1986.
While the report was released in 2020, the statistics were collected in 2019 and the report records crime statistics for the previous three years.
In 2019, VUPD recorded a total of 112 crimes involving a member of the VU community and 111 of those occurred on-campus.
An overwhelming majority of the offenses were alcohol related which accounted for 87 of the total recorded crimes. Drug related offenses were the second most reoccurring crime on campus with six recorded crimes.
“So the big fluctuating one is drugs,” Garber said. “That's the one that just stands out to me all the time. You’ll have an increase for a couple years and then you’ll have a decrease.”
The number of drug and alcohol related offenses on campus have decreased since 2014. Previous Security and Fire Safety reports indicate 281 alcohol related offenses in 2015. In 2017 VUPD reported 26 drug related crimes within the VU community.
“And there’s no rhyme or reason to it,” Garber said.
Alcohol and drug related offense fluctuations are not the only trends Garber has seen throughout the years.
“Sometimes sexual assaults fluctuate,” Garber said.
Valpo reported two cases of rape on campus in 2019 as well as six other related crimes, five of which were categorized as Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) offenses.
According to the US Justice Department, the VAWA was signed into law in 1994 but reauthorized in 2013. The Clery Center explains the reauthorization clarified previous guidelines that lead to inaccurate crime reporting and expanded the guidelines for what constitutes sexual assault.
“At one time, I don’t think they did a good job [with] sexual assaults because it [the definition] was such a small box,” Garber said. “Being a sexual assault investigator, I would have a case that didn’t fit in that box and it wasn’t counted, but it was an assault.”
By incorporating the VAWA, universities are now mandated to report instances of domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.
“I think that's pretty important,” Garber said. “They nailed it when they did ‘dating violence’ because for the most part, on a college campus… you don’t have as many domestics as you do dating violence.”
Valpo’s most recent VAWA statistics report there was one instance of dating violence, four instances of stalking and no instances of domestic violence in 2019.
While VUPD is only responsible for the crime aspect of the Security and Fire Safety Report, there are other aspects included such as crime prevention tips, Title IX, SAAFE Programs and other security policies practiced by the university.
“It’s not just the police department, it’s a whole team of folks gathering information,” said Garber.
VUPD in particular compiles crime data throughout the year and then double checks it when it comes time to release the report and submit it to higher authorities. Additionally, VUPD works with the Valparaiso Police Department to gather crime data involving the Valpo community from off-campus.
If there was one takeaway Garber wished students would have from this report is that if students have an issue, report it to VUPD.
“Just know that if you have a problem, report it to VUPD,” said Garber. “But if you're not sure and don’t know who to go to, if you report it to us, we are able to guide you.”