Burglaries show sharp decrease at Eastern Michigan University, annual crime report shows

Drop linked to Increased security measures, new programs and added police staff

by Geoff Larcom, Published October 27, 2011

 Burglaries, among the most reported of all crimes on college campuses, have dropped dramatically at Eastern Michigan University.

Campus burglaries decreased by 31 percent from 2009 to 2010, falling from 42 to 29, according to the EMU Department of Public Safety's Annual Security and Fire Safety Report.

The report, which includes statistical information from 2008 through 2010, shows an even greater percentage drop in the burglaries in Eastern's residence halls and student apartments. That fell approximately 59 percent, from 31 in 2009 to just 13 last year.

"One of the top priorities for the department has been to decrease B&Es,"  said Lt. Bob Heighes, EMU's Interim Director of Public Safety. "Support from the University and the University Community and all the members of the department has been outstanding in this effort. "

Heighes noted that while a small portion of the change is likely attributable to new federal crime classification categories, the majority of the decrease stems from recent prevention efforts. Those include the "Gotcha" program, in which EMU Housing and DPS officers check residence hall rooms to ensure resident doors are secured at night. Such programs not only help prevent B&Es, but also educate students on campus safety, Heighes says.

He notes that EMU now has additional officers who patrol campus on foot and interact with students, faculty and staff. "We also have our Crime Response Unit, which focuses on specific crimes and ways to prevent it on campus, " Heighes said. "Both of these efforts significantly benefit and protect our EMU community."

Said President Sue Martin: "The sharp drop in burglaries helps illustrate the effects of recent changes we have made at Eastern, along with the excellent work of our police force and other staff. We have invested in both a new DPS facility and new staff because we place a premium on the safety and welfare of our students and staff. It is central to our mission at Eastern."

This past year, EMU installed electronic ID card locks on rooms in the First-Year Center of residence halls, which includes Putnam, Sellers, Walton and Phelps Halls. In addition, the University has expanded its electronic surveillance system in key areas around campus.

"The cameras are critical in helping solve crimes," Heighes said. "They are one piece of the overall crime prevention effort by the department. The huge effort by the detectives, road officers and communication officers in reviewing the video is also crucial."

The most recent decreases in burglaries continue a trend that began in 2008, when burglaries dropped 61 percent from the previous year. In fact, since 2007, when EMU reported 123 on campus burglaries, reported incidences of that crime have dropped 76 percent.

Eastern Michigan saw declines or minimal change from the previous year in the 13 crime categories that are reported to the federal government.  One noteworthy trend is a rise in on-campus liquor violations, from 25 in 2008 to 51 last year - the product of increased patrols and enforcement.

EMU's focus on public safety included the building of a state-of-the art headquarters for the Department of Public Safety on the northwest end of campus. The $3.9 million facility, which opened in fall 2009, was a money-saving conversion of the former Hoyt Conference Center.

In recent years, Eastern also added six new officers to its force, along with four dispatchers. A crime mapping application located on the DPS Web site (http://geodata.acad.emich.edu/Crime/Main.htm) provides users with a visual representation of where crime is occurring by adding markers to a map of the campus and the city.

 The annual security and fire safety report contains crime statistics concerning reported crimes that occurred on-campus; in certain off-campus buildings or property owned or controlled by Eastern Michigan University; and on public property within, or immediately adjacent to and accessible from campus.

A copy of this report can be obtained by contacting the University's Department of Public Safety at 734-487-0892 or by accessing the following website: http://www.emich.edu/publicsafety/current_yearly_crime_stats.pdf




Geoff Larcom



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