By Olivia McClure | LSU Student
Overall, the number of on-campus crimes committed at LSU and Southern University did not increase significantly in 2012, according to the universities' annual security reports. Law enforcement officials at the two Baton Rouge campuses cite better student awareness as the primary reason.
A total of 78 on-campus criminal offenses were reported to the LSU Police Department last year. They include three forcible sex offences, 13 robberies, 11 aggravated assaults, 49 burglaries and two motor vehicle thefts.
LSUPD made 279 arrests, 252 of which were on campus. A majority of the arrests — 178 — were for liquor law violations. That figure is down somewhat from the 224 arrests in 2011.
During the same period, Southern University Police responded to 83 criminal offenses and made 13 arrests. Southern's report lists three forcible rapes/sexual assaults, 11 robberies, five aggravated assaults and two motor vehicle thefts. Burglaries jumped to 62 from 35.
LSUPD spokesman Capt. Cory Lalonde said while consistency in the number of crimes is good, involving the campus community in crime prevention remains important. Police have focused on educating students in the past, but engaging faculty and staff is the priority now, he said.
Southern University Police Chief Ronald Stevens said the rise in burglaries may be the result of more people reporting those incidents than in the past. The more students are aware of crime, the more likely they are to report it, Stevens said, which helps police promote a sense of security on campus.
"When the stats go out, it kind of puts a comfort zone there for the students and the parents, whether they're here in Baton Rouge or in L.A., Calif.," Stevens said.
Although most burglaries at LSU take place in residential halls, a small but growing number are in academic buildings. Lalonde said 90 percent of on-campus burglaries occur due to non-forced entry, usually because of doors left open or unlocked.
Lalonde said making people aware of these kinds of statistics helps them know what is going on and what to watch out for.
"We want to be as open and honest as possible about the events that are happening on campus," he said. "We have 70 officers in our department, but we can't be everywhere at once."
Efforts such as the "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign that began in 2011 have made people more comfortable about reporting suspicious activity, which gives police a more accurate picture of crime on campus, Lalonde said.
The reports also include information on fires. Only one fire a LSU during 2012 was reported. It caused nearly $10,000 of damage in the West Campus Apartments. No fires were reported at Southern.
The federal Campus Security Act law requires colleges and universities to publish a report containing three years of campus crime and fire statistics by Oct. 1 each year. In addition to data on crimes and fires, the reports include security policy statements and information on how to report crimes.