By Shannon Vicic
The UI Police Department has released a report containing comprehensive crime statistics for the UI campus and surrounding community.
The department hopes that the report will help educate UI students and others about criminal activity on and near campus so that they can identify and modify behaviors that may put them at risk for crime, said Oliver J. Clark, UI police chief and director of the campus Division of Public Safety.
"Although we're always working to protect students from crime, we hope that the statistics will give students information they can use to protect themselves," Clark said.
In recent months, the university has taken steps to improve security by installing new lighting and emergency phones, adding more police officers, and working with the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District to extend bus hours to the campus area. This fall, the campus administration also initiated a safety program, "Truth or Dare," to educate UI students about campus-area crime.
According to the new statistics, men walking alone at night were the most likely victims of crime, and most crimes occurred between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. on any given day of the week. The greatest concentration of crimes against people -- usually in the form of assaults and robberies -- occurred in the northwest campus area, primarily off university property and centered in the blocks surrounding Campustown.
Clark recommends that to avoid becoming victims, students walk in groups at night, use well-lit and busy sidewalks, drink responsibly, and stay alert to their surroundings. Students should call 911 in an emergency or to report any suspicious activity. (It's no longer necessary to dial a 9 before dialing 911 from campus telephones.)
The UI Police Department began collecting comprehensive data on criminal activity in the larger campus area -- the area bordered by railroad tracks on the west (near Neil Street), Race Street on the east, University Avenue on the north, and Windsor Avenue on the south -- in September 1995.
The department won't have comparative data until January to indicate a crime trend in the larger campus area. But department officials have recorded a general decrease in crimes such as assault, rape and robbery on university-owned property.