Instances of burglary have declined for the third year in a row while two-year increases in alcohol- and drug-related incidents have been halted at Stony Brook University, according to the university's October 2011 Clery Report.
"We're taking a much more proactive approach to crime prevention. ... We've been aggressive in investigating and charging people with the crimes," said Lawrence Zacarese, assistant chief of university police.
Zacarese described the bulk of burglaries on campus as crimes of opportunity, stemming from students and faculty members leaving dorm rooms and offices unlocked or open. He attributed the decline to an increase in general awareness of safer practices.Crime & Violations at SBU 2010 2009 2008 2007 Sex Offenses - Forcible 7 5 4 5 Sex Offenses - Non-forcible 0 0 0 0 Robbery 3 2 6 3 Burglary 109 134 189 212 Aggravated Assault 4 3 7 2 Murder/Non-negligent Manslaughter 0 0 0 0 Negligent Manslaughter 0 0 0 0 Arson 7 7 3 6 Liquor Law Arrests 2 0 1 0 Liquor Law Referrals 205 463 385 226 Drug Arrests 25 19 13 6 Drug Referrals 127 317 173 73 Weapons Arrests 3 1 1 0 Weapons Referrals 7 19 17 13 Motor Vehicle Theft 11 7 12 9 Larceny-Theft* 0 0 - - Simple Assault* 1 1 - - Intimidation* 0 1 - - Destruction/Damage/Vandalism of Property* 1 3 - - Total On-Campus Incidents 512 977 811 555
* Denotes a Hate Crime classification
Zacarese said the bulk of crimes on campus are committed by students as opposed to non-students.
"We're really not victim to non-campus-affiliated people coming to Stony Brook to instigate crime," he said.
He also said joint programs with Campus Residencies have led to the decline in drug- and alcohol-related incident referrals on campus.
Matty Punnett, director of university community standards, said those programs include the Red Watch Band, an alcohol-related outreach and prevention program, as well as more specific training for resident advisors. Additionally, she said each freshman is required to take a class called "CPO101," one session of alcohol education and drug prevention facilitated by the Center for Prevention and Outreach on campus, and the university offers online tools called E-toke and E-chug that are aimed at helping students assess and understand their alcohol- and drug-related activities.
Stony Brook is not a dry campus, but the university follows New York State law when it comes to enforcing the legal drinking age of 21.
"I think we are enforcing this so heavily with our campus police, RAs, and Office of University Community Standards," Punnett said. "It has really changed the culture on campus."
For students who do get charged with violations, Punnett said their approach is more educational than punitive.
Each year, colleges and universities are required to publish on-campus crime statistics through a federal law, enacted following the death of Jeanne Clery, who was rape and murdered at Lehigh University 25 years ago.
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Stony Brook employs about 70 police officers, and is currently looking to both replace officers who have retired and hire a few additional officers, according to Zacarese.
Last week, students reported feeling generally safe on campus, though with some caveats.
Senior Kofi Acheampong said he feels safe on campus – but when his laptop and charger were stolen from his dorm room recently, he wanted the police to do more.
"I told the police, but they really couldn't do anything for me except file a police report," he said. "They didn't do anything else."
John Darminio said he has seen inconsistencies in the way university police operate. "I've never felt not safe, but there have been instances where the police haven't really done their job," said John Darminio, a senior. "They blow certain things out of proportion and other things they dont take seriously."
Junior Charlie Monzillo has never been the victim of an on-campus crime, and doesn't know anyone who has, either.
"As far as safety, I dont really feel any threat on campus. I guess the campus police are doing a good job. I alway see them in [the] parking lot," he said.
Freshman Ashley Cintron said she feels "relatively safe."
"The police and RAs are pretty vigilant," she said. "I think people just need to start locking their doors."
This story was reported by Christine Sampson, Koral Heiseler, and Ariel Ruppert.