UMPD releases 2018 crime statistics and instances of fire in annual security and safety reports

Five hate crimes, six fires, 12 burglaries, 23 incidents of rape and 348 total liquor law arrests and referrals in 2018

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UMPD releases 2018 crime statistics and instances of fire in annual security and safety reports

Mehroz Kapadia

Mehroz Kapadia

Mehroz Kapadia

Mehroz Kapadia

By Chris McLaughlin, Assistant News Editor

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On Sept. 30, the University of Massachusetts released the 2018 edition of its annual security and fire safety reports detailing instances of crimes and fires on campus for the previous calendar year, including five hate crimes, six fires, 12 burglaries, 23 rapes and 348 total liquor law arrests and referrals.

The full reports were sent out to the student body via email by Tyrone Parham, the chief of police and assistant vice chancellor for the UMass Police Department.

“The report provides important information about safety and security at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst,” Parham wrote. “All campus crime statistics required by the Clery Act are provided, including the number of persons referred for campus disciplinary action. Information about campus crime prevention and safety awareness programs is also provided.”

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act is a federal statute requiring colleges and universities who participate in financial aid programs to maintain and disclose campus crime statistics and security information.

The crime statistics display the full range of categorized crimes which occurred in 2018 as well as the two years prior.

The security report states that in all three years from 2016 to 2018 there were no cases of murder or manslaughter, either negligent or non-negligent, which occurred on campus. No cases of incest or statutory rape were reported to UMPD within those three years as well.

In 2018, UMPD handled 23 total cases of rape reported to them, 16 of which occurred in a residence hall and all except one occurred at an on-campus location. Compared to 2016 and 2017, there were a total of 20 and 18 reported to UMPD respectively. The statistics also report nine instances of fondling in 2018 compared to three in 2017 and six in 2016.

The report defines the two crimes separately stating that fondling is “the touching of the private parts of another person for the purposes of sexual gratification, without the consent of the victim,” while rape is defined as “the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

UMPD oversaw nine instances of domestic violence in 2018, eight of which occurred on-campus and five of those in the residence halls. In 2016 there were 11 total cases reported, and in 2017 there were eight in total reported.

While there were no “dating violence” cases on record for all three years, UMPD makes a note that “dating [v]iolence is not defined specifically in Massachusetts’ [s]tate laws. Incidents that would be categorized as ‘dating violence’ typically fall under the Massachusetts definition of ‘domestic violence’ and this is reflected in the [statistic] reporting.”

The report also stated that incidents of stalking have fallen in the past three years from four total in 2016, to two in 2017 and one in 2018.

By far the largest number of cases UMPD handled had to do with liquor law arrests and liquor law referrals. UMPD arrested 137 people for such violations in 2018, a relative increase in comparison to 143 in 2017 and 92 in 2016,.

UMPD also referred 211 for liquor law violations in 2018, 196 in 2017 and 216 in 2016. Almost every referral over all three years happened in a residence hall.

The report defines liquor law violations as violation of laws or ordinances prohibiting the illegal sale, possession, transport, furnishing and bootlegging of alcohol. It also includes supplying liquor to a minor or an intemperate person, illegal operation of a still and drinking on a public conveyance such as on a train, but the definition does not include those driving under the influence or open drunkenness.

Drug law arrests totaled four in 2018, down from 11 in 2017 and seven in 2016. Referrals for drug law violations were also down from 11 in 2016, six in 2017 to only one in the whole of 2018.

These violations are defined by the report as violations of state and local laws for the unlawful possession, sale, use, growing and manufacturing of narcotic drugs including cocaine, opium and its derivatives, marijuana, synthetic drugs and also non-narcotic drugs such as barbiturates.

Instances of aggravated assault have also decreased in the span of three years down from 11 in 2016, five in 2017 and four in 2018.

Weapons law arrests numbered only one in both 2018 and 2016, while none occurred in 2017. There have been zero referrals for weapons law violations since 2017. However, there were two in 2016.

There were three cases of robbery in 2018, two of which were listed at a “non-campus” property, meaning they occurred in a building owned or controlled by a student organization recognized by the University or by an institution in direct support or in relation to the school’s educational purposes frequently used by students.

No robberies were reported in 2017 and three also occurred in 2016, all of which had occurred on-campus.

However, there were 12 instances of burglary in 2018, down from 14 total in 2017 and 18 in 2016. Ten of the 2018 burglaries occurred on-campus, seven of which were in residence halls.

The report distinguishes between a burglary and a robbery by defining the former as “the unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or a theft,” versus the latter, which is defined as “the taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force, violence and/or causing the victim fear.”

A total of two motor vehicle thefts occurred in 2018, one of which was on-campus. The other was not.

In its assessment of hate crime statistics in the past three years, UMPD wrote, “It is important to note that the following disclosed hate crime statistics include, by law, only those incidents where, through investigation, it is learned that a criminal act has occurred and that the perpetrator(s) committed the crime because of their bias against certain protected groups.”

“Random acts of vandalism, while offensive to some, often do not fall into this category,” it added.

“In 2018, [UMass] had two on-campus vandalisms characterized by racial bias; one on-campus vandalism incident characterized by religious bias; one on-campus, within-residence-hall vandalism characterized by gender bias; and one on-campus assault characterized by bias against national origin,” the security report states.

“In 2017, [UMass] had two on-campus, within-residence-hall vandalism incidents that were characterized by racial bias,” it added. “In 2016, [UMass] had three on-campus, within-residence-hall vandalism incidents that would be defined as hate crimes: two were characterized by racial bias, and one was characterized by religious bias.”

UMPD added in its report that, “if a hate crime occurs where there is an incident involving intimidation, vandalism, larceny, simple assault or other bodily injury, the law requires that the statistic be reported as a hate crime even though there is no requirement to report the crime classification in any other area of the compliance document.”

“A hate or bias related crime is not a separate, distinct crime, but is the commission of a criminal offense which was motivated by the offender’s bias,” it continued. “For example, a subject assaults a victim, which is a crime. If the facts of the case indicate that the offender was motivated to commit the offense because of his bias against the victim’s race, sexual orientation, etc. … the assault is then also classified as a hate/bias crime.”

In 2018, UMPD investigated one report of vandalism to a motor vehicle, which police determined was unfounded.

The report also includes criminal offenses and crime statistics from the Mount Ida Campus which accounted for zero total crimes across all categories in 2018. The information is non-applicable for 2016 and 2017.

In a note on the use of security cameras on campus the reports state that UMPD uses them to “enhance public safety and security … in a professional and ethical manner, consistent with accepted legal rights of privacy.”

The report states there are currently 1,510 security cameras in use on campus, 566, or 37 percent, of which are installed in residence halls and 944, or 63 percent, of which are in non-residential or auxiliary locations.

Cases of arson on campus totaled two in 2018, compared to one in 2017 and four in 2016. The annual fire report for 2018 further explains instances of fire in campus residences detailing the number of fires, the causes of each, the number of injuries related to the fire that resulted in medical treatment as well as the number of related deaths and value of property damage caused by the fire.

In 2018, there were fires recorded in John Adams Hall, Mary Lyon Hall, the North Village Apartments, Patterson Hall, Pierpont Hall and Webster Hall, none of which resulted in injuries or loss of life.

The John Adams fire resulted in $250 in damages as a result of improper disposal of smoking materials. The Mary Lyon fire resulted in $350 in damages from a plastic bottle that was “observed on the floor with various burnt items,” in addition to an adjacent table that had a burn mark on its surface.

The North Village Apartment fire occurred due to a “malicious exterior fire” where spent matches and a minor burn mark was found on exterior siding. The resulting value of damages was considered negligible.

Another fire at Pierpont Hall was also deemed to have resulted in no monetary property damage. That fire resulted from burnt paper found on the door to a student’s room.

The most expensive damages from fires occurred in Webster Hall where a small oven fire occurred when students were baking cookies that resulted in $400 in damages, while the fire in Patterson Hall resulted in $2,500 in damages from a failed heat circulatory pump for the building’s HVAC system.

In addition to the reported fires, the safety report explains that all residence halls are equipped with fire safety equipment such as smoke detectors, sprinklers and manual fire alarm pull stations and includes a full list of items prohibited in residence halls.

These items include, but are not limited to, candles or incense (lit or unlit), 3D printers, hot plates, lava lamps, hoverboards and toaster ovens.

It also supplies a list of procedures in case of a fire emergency and adherences for room decoration to be in line with fire safety.

UMPD is a full-service 24-hour police department with 53 sworn officers who “possess the full power and authority to apprehend and arrest anyone involved in illegal acts on campus.” UMPD regularly works together with local law enforcement agencies such as the Amherst Police Department and the Hadley Police Department.

“To report a crime or an emergency from an on-campus phone, call UMPD at extension 5-2121 or, from outside the University phone system at (413) 545-2121,” the report states. “When using a cell phone, please remember that 911 will reach the State Police who then must transfer the call to UMPD. UMPD recommends pre-programming of cell phones with the UMPD dispatch number (413-545-2121). Dispatchers are available 24 hours a day, [seven] days a week, to answer your call.”

The full security report and full fire report can be viewed in detail online to learn more about UMPD and precautions students are advised to follow to prevent and address crimes and fires.

Chris McLaughlin can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @ChrisMcLJournal.