Shepherd University recently released the annual Campus Security and Fire Safety Report for 2014. Based on the statistical data presented in it, crime rates on campus appear to be dropping, and one could argue that students and staff have never been safer than they are today.
Shepherd’s Clery Compliance Committee, which is comprised of individuals such as the Chief of Police and the Athletic Director, gathers the crime statistics from reported crimes at Shepherd throughout the year. They then compile them into this report which is released on an annual basis.
According to this report, the number of violent crimes such as forcible sex offenses and aggravated assaults has dropped in recent years. Any such crimes have no place in the Shepherd community, but these low numbers give the impression that violent offenses are few and far between at this university. In 2011, 10 forcible sex offenses were reported on campus. However, that number dropped to 9 in 2012, and it fell to 8 in 2013. In addition, there have been no reported non-forcible sex offenses at Shepherd over the past six years.
There were also no reports of aggravated assault at Shepherd from 2011 to 2013. Only one crime of this nature was indicated in this report, and it occurred in 2010.
Incidents of burglaries are also down at Shepherd in recent years. Six instances of burglary were reported in both 2012 and 2013. However, only 8 were recorded in 2011. It should also be noted that there have been no motor vehicle thefts over the past six years, and the last weapons violation related crime to take place at Shepherd, according to Shepherd’s annual Campus Security and Fire Safety Report for 2014, was in 2008.
This report also shows that the most commonly reported crimes involve larceny and liquor violations. There were 11 reports of larceny at Shepherd in 2013, but that was still down from 16 in 2012. On the other hand, there were 7 recorded liquor related crimes in 2013 and that is a drop from 11 the previous year. This report makes it quite clear that students should feel confident about their safety on campus.
“I feel that I have nothing to worry about when it comes to my safety on campus,” Isaiah Wakefield, a freshman at Shepherd, said.
Ryan Walker, a sophomore at Shepherd, said, “I feel safe walking around Shepherd and the town at all hours of the day. I can’t remember ever feeling uncomfortable or unsafe.”
“For the most part, I feel safe during the day; but at night when I’m walking back to my dorm, I don’t like the lack of lights around campus,” Gabriela B., a freshman at Shepherd, said.
Given that Shepherd is located in a small town and in a rural setting, crime rates in the area are naturally lower than the rates in urban areas. Nonetheless, crime will always remain a product of our society, and it will continue to take place everywhere, including Shepherdstown.
Moreover, as long as our society exists, there will be laws and regulations set forth to ensure order and safety among us. Many people may be opposed to certain laws or to the agencies that enforce them. However, it is important to recognize that policing is a vital part of this large and complex society in which we live. Without it, living peacefully, safely and orderly would not be possible.
It is difficult to pin point exactly one reason for the decrease in crime at Shepherd in recent years. I would argue the drop can be attributed to a combination of several factors including proficient police work, more stringent admissions processes for students and improving economic conditions. This report clearly shows that the approach Shepherd has been taking in recent years to campus security is working although it is not perfect. Nevertheless, criminal activity on campus that threatens students and their academic work is being kept to a minimum, and one can only hope that a similar trend will continue.