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Are there really fewer crimes, or is new system responsible?

Within two days of a contentious town hall meeting last fall in which parents and students expressed concern about a growing number of crime alerts — although crime was actually lower than average — municipal and campus police switched federally required reporting of crime to an outsourced private system that, for the remainder of the year, underreported campus crime by 33 percent.

Among the crimes excluded from the new system but included in the former system, active until Dec. 31, were two sex crimes — one against a 25-year-old staff member inside the Union and the other against an 18-year-old student outside the ARC — plus two robberies, outside the Armory and the Library.

University police said the new system might not have been fully active until Jan. 1. However, an additional crime that occurred after the full cutover date — a robbery Jan. 22 near the English Building — also did not appear on the new reporting system, Crimereports.com, even though a campus crime alert was issued.

After the town hall meeting Nov. 12, the university significantly ratcheted down its mass-mailed crime alerts, issuing only five in the six months after the meeting despite issuing 18 in the six months prior.

University police, who lost several staff positions last summer, have received additional funding since then despite investigating only a fraction of the federally reportable campus crimes. The rest, in a district bounded by University Avenue, Windsor Road, and Race and Neil Streets, were investigated by community police.

Overall, crime does appear down this spring. How much of that is cyclical and how much is attributable to the new reporting system is impossible to say.

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