Campus Police and Guns, by the Numbers

By Harley D. Schultz

IUP’s Council of Trustees has decided that campus police need to be armed. But the number of reported crimes on campus has gone down in the past 17 years.

And an analysis of reported crimes on campuses in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education suggests that campuses without armed police have lower rates of reported crime. Campuses with armed police have higher crime rates, the data suggest.

In 1989 IUP campus police reported 577 crimes on campus. In 2005 police recorded 535, a reduction of 7 percent, according to IUP’s online repository of statistical data, the IUP Trendbook.

After a Student Government Association-sponsored “Speak Up IUP” forum on Oct. 9, David A. Burdette, IUP vice president for administration and finance, said his decision to take the matter of arming campus police to IUP President Tony Atwater came from the “proof of overwhelming numbers.”

However, the only category of crimes that increased at IUP since 1989 was drug and alcohol violations. In 1989 police recorded 89 drug and alcohol violations. In 2005 they recorded 260, an increase of 192 percent, according to the Trendbook. Meanwhile, other categories, including violent crimes like assault, have gone down.

Burdette said IUP will be the 12th school to arm its police in the 14-school Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, making 86 percent of PASSHE campuses armed.

In 2005 IUP had the fourth lowest crime rate of the 10 PASSHE schools that made crime data available for that year.

The crime data was available through the Jeanne Clery Act, a federal law that requires colleges to disclose crime data to the public. The crime rate represents the number of crimes committed per enrolled student.

PASSHE schools without armed police have the lowest crime rates of schools in the system.

The PASSHE school with the lowest crime rate was California University of Pennsylvania. CUP is one school in the PASSHE that remains unarmed.

The PASSHE school with the second lowest crime rate was Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania. Lock Haven campus police are unarmed, but have access to firearms if needed.

The PASSHE school with the third lowest crime rate was Millersville University of Pennsylvania. Millersville University Police Lt. Joyce R. Rutecki said the MU Council of Trustees armed campus police in 1991 in response to incidents involving illegal firearms on campus.

“The most significant incident occurred when shots were fired outside a dance party,” Rutecki said in a phone interview this week. “The felon fled into a dorm and police could not follow.”

In a Nov. 28 telephone interview IUP Student Government Association President Patrick Sean Barnacle said crime rates shouldn’t influence the decision to arm campus police.

“Arming has nothing to do with crime rates,” Barnacle said. “I’ve often worried that campus police are unable to respond first to crime. It’s about dealing with a what-if scenario.”

Barnacle said the SGA has never passed a resolution endorsing or condemning the decision to arm the police. But Barnacle added that he personally supports it.

Burdette said in a recent telephone interview that he did not take crime data from other PASSHE schools into consideration when taking the matter of arming to Atwater.

“I’m not a statistician,” Burdette said. “What other campuses do is important, but I’m concerned with IUP.”

Burdette said in a recent telephone interview that he did not take crime data from other PASSHE schools into consideration when taking the matter of arming to Atwater.


Sidebar: 2005 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Campus Crime Rate Data

PASSHE School                                                       Crimes           Enrollment        Crime Rate (%)

California University of Pennsylvania 1                  64                    7,535                     0.85

Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania 1              80                    5,283                    1.51

Millersville University of Pennsylvania                  132                   7,919                     1. 67

Indiana University of Pennsylvania 1                      307                  14,081                   2.18

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania              240                  8,105                    2.96

West Chester University of Pennsylvania               421                   12,988                  3.24

Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania                 292                   8,570                    3.41

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania                      273                    7,691                    3.55

East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania       242                   6,793                    3.56

Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania             330                   7,485                    4.41

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania*

Clarion University of Pennsylvania*

Kutztown University of Pennsylvania*

Mansfield University of Pennsylvania*

Total number of crimes disclosed for 2005 under Jeanne Clery Act.
Total student enrollment reported to PASSHE.
1 – Unarmed Campus Police in 2005

*Data Unavailable for 2005

Crime rates are calculated by dividing the number of reported campus crimes by the campus enrollment, then multiplying by 100 to get a crime rate as a percentage of crimes per campus.

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