Annual campus report shows increase in crime

The annual crime report for South Plains College for 2017 shows an increase of burglary, drug and alcohol violations on campus.

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, which was passed in 1990, requires by law that all colleges and universities that receive federal funding share information about certain crimes which occur on and around campus.

The report is collected, reported and disseminated by the Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Stan DeMerritt, with assistance from the Dean of Students, Dr. Lynn Cleavinger, and the Chief of the South Plains College Police Department, Nikolis Castillo, before Oct. 1 of each year.

Burglary on the Levelland campus increased to four cases in 2017, compared to one in 2016. All were reported from on-campus student housing. There were also six cases of burglary on public property that were reported to the Levelland campus.

“By far, the most common crime is theft,” Chief Castillo said. “The most common reason that it occurs is that items are left unattended or doors are left unlocked. It is very rare that items are stolen from secured locations.”

There were no cases of aggravated assault reported on the Levelland campus, which is a decrease from one in 2016. However, there was an increase of four charges reported to the Levelland campus that occured on public property.

Chief Castillo explained that the Clery Act requires that all crime that occurs on public property adjacent to campus be reported as well.

“If a crime occurs in one of the reportable geographic areas, we must report it if it is known to the local agency of that area,” Chief Castillo explained. “So those crimes that are reported in those sections may or may not have been investigated by the South Plains College Police Department. We do have jurisdiction in the entire county, so we do handle some of those calls. But some of them are just those we are aware of and we want to make sure the community is aware as well.”

Motor vehicle theft increased by one from zero in the previous year. The incident occured at on-campus student housing.

There was a large increase in arrests and disciplinary referrals on the Levelland campus.

There were 19 disciplinary referrals for drug abuse violations, 15 more than the previous year. All of the drug abuse violations occurred in on-campus student housing.

Arrests and disciplinary referrals for liquor law violations also increased largely. A total of 28 arrests were made in 2017, compared to only 15 in 2016. There was a total of 47 disciplinary referrals in 2017, an increase of 16 from 31 in 2016.

“I believe we have a rise in the drug and liquor violations for a number of reasons,” Chief Castillo said. “First, there has been a rise in drug and liquor use across the country, and we get a portion of that. Second, we are encouraging reporting much more than was done in the past, and we have seen an increase in reporting because of that. We have also increased the rate at which we investigate and pursue allegations, which causes an increase in the number reported. We also have greater technology to assist in determining if alcohol has actually been consumed.”

There was one report to the Levelland campus of intimidation that occured online.

There was a decline in the number of rape, aggravated assault, dating violence and stalking cases, as well as arrests for carrying and possessing weapons.

Rape, aggravated assault, dating violence, and arrests for weapons all dropped to zero in 2017 from one in 2016.

Reports of stalking on the Levelland campus also dropped to zero in 2017, from one in 2016.

There were no reports or arrests at the Reese Center campus and Plainview Center campus.

The Byron Martin Advanced Technology Center and Lubbock Center campus both had one report of domestic violence that occured on non-campus property.

The Byron Martin Advanced Technology Center also had one report of motor vehicle theft, which occurred on non-campus property.

“We have a very low crime rate for each campus in comparison to the municipality in which it is in,” Chief Castillo explained. “However, we are still a part of the city, and we have an open area campus and we do see some crime”

Chief Castillo said that the South Plains College Police Department is working diligently with the college administration and making great strides in improving campus safety. The College has made efforts to make reporting and complaint forms available online at Southplainscollege.edu.

A full copy of the Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics report can be found online at  http://www.southplainscollege.edu/studentconsumerinformation.php under Security, Crime and Fire Safety Reports.

Author: Autumn Bippert

Editor-in-Chief of the Plainsman Press, this is my second semester as Editor-in-Chief. I am a Sophomore Photojournalism student at SPC, from the Austin area.

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