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StarBulletin.com

Burglary is top crime problem at UH


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POSTED: Sunday, September 20, 2009

The number of alcohol and drug violations in University of Hawaii at Manoa dorms dropped by more than half last year while thefts, sexual assaults and robberies on campus increased.

Those are some of the crime statistics being reported to the federal government by UH-Manoa in the university's annual campus crime report.

Burglaries remain the biggest crime problem at UH-Manoa, up 62 percent between 2006 and 2008.

“;I'm not surprised at the campus burglary numbers. We have a terrible problem with people getting on campus and taking things,”; said Meda Chesney-Lind, a UH-Manoa professor and crime researcher.

The number of violent crimes reported on campus remains low, but increased over 2007.

The biggest decrease was in the number of alcohol and drug violations referred for disciplinary action—down 54 percent.

But the decrease doesn't necessarily mean students are drinking less or doing fewer drugs on campus.

               

     

 

CRIME DATA REQUIRES OFFICIALS' OK

        Because of a communications policy for the University of Hawaii-Manoa campus, information from Campus Security must be approved by administrators before being released to the public.
       

Star-Bulletin questions were required to be submitted in advance by e-mail to Campus Security Capt. Donald Dawson, and his answers to the questions were screened by UH-Manoa Director of Communications Diane Chang and Wayne Fujishige, director of auxiliary services, before being e-mailed back to the Star-Bulletin.

       

Chang, a former editorial director at the Star-Bulletin, said under the internal protocol in the Chancellor's Office, any media interview involving the administration should be granted either by UH-Manoa communications personnel or someone at the director's level or higher.

       

Kathy Cutshaw, vice chancellor for administration, said the policy took effect for Campus Security when former security Chief Neil Sakamoto left his position in April.

       

Michelle White, who covers Campus Security for the student newspaper Ka Leo O Hawaii, said the policy has meant fewer stories about public safety on campus because it can take days to get the same information that she used to be able to get in one interview.

       

Craig Gima, Star-Bulletin

       

The drop follows a change in policy in the dorms last fall to provide more counseling before sending students for discipline.

Residence directors and advisers “;have really been focusing more on what we can do educationally and behaviorally,”; said Mike Kaptik, UH-Manoa director of student housing. “;We've moved from a punitive sanctioning model to a more educational model.”;

Campus Security Capt. Donald Dawson said the change is having a “;positive impact in limiting student misconduct.”; But his e-mailed answers, which were approved by the UH-Manoa administration, did not say whether he believed drinking and drug use are down on campus.

The 2008 crime statistics also show five sexual assaults reported in dorms, two more than in 2007.

Dawson said sex assaults “;are not up significantly”; and credited the Sexual Assault Task Force and other groups on campus with raising awareness about sex assault.

Sex assaults were more of a problem off-campus in 2007, when there were 10 incidents reported near the Manoa campus, compared with three off-campus assaults last year.

P. Jayne Bopp, former coordinator for the Program Against Violence to Women at UH-Manoa, said rape statistics are not necessarily a reflection of the actual number of sex assaults on campus.

“;About 95 percent of sex assaults go unreported,”; Bopp said. “;The numbers, even if they go up one or two, it doesn't necessarily mean there is an increase or decrease in the number of rapes.”;

Robberies near campus were a problem last year, however, with five crimes reported on nearby public property, compared with none in 2007. The statistics for last year include the September robbery of two young men in Kanewai Park by a man who appeared to be armed with an “;Uzi-type”; weapon, and two robberies in October on campus.

Police arrested two men last year in connection with those crimes and as many as four other robberies in the area around campus.

While violent-crime reports have gone up and down over the last three years, burglaries appear to be a consistent problem.

Burglaries were up 9 percent on campus last year and 19 percent in the dorms.

The rise in burglaries comes despite efforts by Campus Security to prevent crime.

Those efforts include an undercover bike-theft detail with Honolulu Police in 2006 and increased publicity on campus about crime awareness.

Campus Security officers started patrolling on bicycles in 2007, and added high-tech T-3 scooters, similar to Segways, and electric carts last year in an effort to cut down on crime.

Dawson said the chancellor has made Campus Security a priority and is not cutting the department's budget.

Kaptik said there have been some changes in the dorms to increase security. He said there are new lock systems at the Hale Aloha dorms and Frear Hall.

He said the locks are also being changed at Hale Wainani and Noelani so that the doors lock behind students when they leave.

He said locks are also being changed so that students can lock their bedroom doors.

The university is also spending $151,000 to install 23 additional security cameras around campus, which are monitored in a room at Campus Security.

Dawson said some of the cameras will watch bicycle parking areas and the entrances to the dorms.

“;We're making progress, especially given the kinds of events we've seen at Yale,”; Chesney-Lind said. “;We have a small city here and people have to understand this. This is an urban campus.”;