Assistant News Editor
The University’s 2010 annual Campus Security Report and Fire Report was last week.
Each respective report details particular crime and fire incidents the University has faced in the last year and compares them to the same incidents in previous years.
Out of the 26 possible crimes ranging from arson to alcohol violations, three saw higher numbers – theft by unlawful taking, drug violations and alcohol violations. Theft by unlawful taking incidents rose by 22 in 2009. Drug violations rose by nine and alcohol rose by 11.
David DeVoss, chief of police and director of public safety emergency management, said reasons for the growth in theft could not be easily tracked.
“I’m not sure if there is something we can say that is measurable or if there’s a sound reason why,” he said. “Generally, thefts here are very big. But theft is a common problem on all college campuses because we don’t lock our doors in our residential colleges, we don’t lock our cars.”
In 2010, law enforcement officials, not including the 16 thefts that occurred in residential colleges, reported 136 cases of thefts by unlawful taking.
Theft can be prevented by awareness, DeVoss said.
“Good precautions, common precautions would be to not leave your room unlocked when you leave,” he said. “There is a good sense of community in all of our residential colleges and the kids interact with each other and they leave their doors open.”
DeVoss also said he is concerned about students forgetting to lock their doors.
“It’s a really good relationship we all have, but I do worry that students leave their doors unlocked too much, too many times,” he said. “Be cognizant of your surroundings. To be secure, leave your doors locked.”
This goes beyond locking residential college doors, he said. It is also important to lock car doors and not to leave valuables in sight in vehicles, he said.
Along with protecting the safety of property, it is important to protect personal safety, DeVoss said.
“Ask for an escort, walk with people, take one second longer and think ‘what can I do to be safer?’” he said.
Despite the growth in thefts at Murray State, compared to other universities, numbers are low.
According to the 2009 Western Kentucky University’s Annual Campus Security Report, in 2009, there were 51 alcohol violations and 43 drug violations. At Murray State in the same year, liquor violations totalled 19. Western Kentucky’s drug violations totaled 43 for the 2009 year, while Murray State maintained 10, a significant drop from the 26 in 2008.
In 2009, there was $1,200 of damage due to fires in residential facilities on campus, according to the annual Fire Report. In 2010, however, there was only a $105 worth of damage done to residential facilities. All fires were unintentional.
Despite the little training the Murray State Police has in firefighting, they are still dispatched.
“First and foremost, our response is one to deal with all the safety issues on campus. We don’t necessarily fight fires, but we do have some training and have put out lots of fires before the fire department could get there,” DeVoss said.
President Randy Dunn said he is watchful of data from Public Safety.
“When I came here a number of years ago, the university touted itself on being one of the safest universities in the country,” he said. “Over time, we’ve seen some things increase, some things lessen,” he said. “I am concerned enough that I want to keep watch on it.”