UTSA cracks down on drug use

Drug arrests for January are up 114 percent on the 1604 campus. So far, in 2008 there have been 60 arrests on the 1604 campus, more than half of them attributed to alcohol and drug law violations.

No arrests were reported for the remaining two campuses- Downtown and Institute of Texas Cultures (ITC).

Compared to this time in 2007, these arrests represent a 100 percent increase in motor vehicle arrests, 20 percent increase in alcohol arrests, 114 percent increase in drug arrests, 100 percent increase in driving while intoxicated arrests, and 67 percent increase in driving under the influence arrests.

UTSAPD offers annual, weekly and daily reports to alert students of crime on campus. The reports include statistical information about arrests for crimes on campus and the residential facilities.

The information is divided into Part 1 crimes (serious offenses such as homicide, robbery, motor vehicle theft, and sexual offenses), and Part 2 crimes (less serious offenses such as credit card abuse, disorderly conduct, possession/ use of illegal drugs and an array of alcohol violations).

The annual reports required by federal law, known as the Clery Act, compare the numbers of arrests in one year with the number of arrests made in the previous year, and then assign a percentage increase/decrease based on that information.

According to the 2007 annual crime statistics report, the 1604 campus had the most arrests out of all three campuses in both Part 1 and Part 2 crimes. The cause for most of the Part 1 arrests for 1604 students was theft (including larceny, burglary), a category that had a 7 percent increase between 2006 and 2007. The Downtown campus, experienced a 40 percent decrease in theft from 2006.

In 2007, the 1604 campus experienced the largest decrease in motor vehicle arrests out of all the campuses, with only five arrests in 2007 compared to 15 arrests in 2006 (a 67 percent decrease). The downtown campus saw a 60 percent decrease in arrests involving theft of a motor vehicle in 2007.

The decrease may be the effect of UTSAPD’s recent “sting operations” involving decoy cars to lure and capture potential thieves roaming around the downtown campus parking lot.

The most violations among all UTSA students were in the following categories: driving while intoxicated, driving under the influence, violating liquor laws (such as minors in possession, consumption of alcohol, furnishing alcohol to minors, and public intoxication), and violating drug laws.

On all three campuses combined, there was a 12 percent increase in liquor law arrests, a 110 percent increase in DWI arrests, a 37 percent increase in driving under the influence, and a 44 percent increase in drug arrests in 2007 compared to 2006.

The 1604 campus represented the majority of the 2007 increase in alcohol related arrests, with 499 related arrests, compared with 26 similar arrests made downtown, and zero arrests at ITC. This is in large part because most alcohol and drug related arrests take place in campus housing.

While there are increases in arrests in “target areas” such as drinking and drug violations, all three campuses have also experienced a decrease in other Part 2 crime arrests. In 2007, there was a 46 percent decrease in arrests involving burglary of a motor vehicle, a 15 percent decrease in vandalism, a 54 percent decrease in disorderly conduct and a 77 percent decrease in criminal trespassing.

“All this increase and decrease is really relative,” UTSA police chief, David Hernandez said. “The numbers can be a little misleading at times.

“For example, an increase in arrests in a particular area may either mean there are more students committing that type of crime, or, it could mean that that type of crime is in focus by the UTSAPD, and therefore it is the arrest numbers that are increasing, and not the amount of students committing the crime. I would like to think that an increase in arrests will deter students at least a little bit,” Hernandez said.

Chief David Hernandez came to UTSA in January 2006. With a masters degree in public administration and over 20 years of experience on the Rochester New York Police Department, Hernandez has implemented change in UTSAPD’s mode of operation, including the approach to compiling and presenting crime statistics.

“The weekly reports are actually not required by the Clery Act; I started weekly reports at the station back in New York, and decided to do them at UTSA as well, so that we [UTSAPD] would know where we stand for the year statistically, what we were doing good with, and what we needed improvement on,” Hernandez said.

Crime prevention officer Geoffrey Merritt is charged with not only compiling and reporting Hernandez’s weekly reports, but also generating the annual reports required by federal law.

This law, the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, formally the Campus Security Act of 1990, was enacted by congress after the 1986 rape and murder of 19 year old Lehigh University freshman, Jeanne Ann Clery.

Clery’s parents persuaded congress to pass the act because Lehigh University did not adequately inform Jeanne or her parents of 38 violent crimes on campus during the three years leading up to her murder.

Under the Clery Act, universities are federally obligated to publicly release crime statistics annually on Oct. 1. Universities are also required to promptly inform students and community members of any imminent security threats.

The law has been amended several times, once in 1992 to guarantee victims of sexual assault basic rights, once in 1998 to expand reporting requirements, and again in 2000 (enacted in 2003) to require schools to give information about registered sex offenders on campus.

In an attempt to ensure that all universities are in compliance with the act, a watchdog group called Security on Campus, Inc. reports violations to the U.S. Department of Education, which can withdraw a university’s participation in federal financial aid, and can impose hefty fines for each violation if it is found that they are not in compliance with the act.

To date, the largest fine ever imposed for a Campus Crime Reporting violation under the Clery Act was a $357,500 fine given to Eastern Michigan University (EMU) after a murder cover up by school officials became public.

The EMU scandal began in December when 22 year old nutrition major, Laura Dickenson, was found dead in her dorm room. Although she was found naked, with a pillow over her head, and traces of semen on her leg, EMU officials announced that Laura died of “natural causes”, and that there was “no reason to suspect foul play.”

The story changed on Feb. 23, however, when another Eastern Michigan student, Orange Taylor III, was arrested for Dickenson’s murder based on semen samples found on Dickenson’s body.

It was not until the arrest that Dickenson’s family and fellow students found out that Dickenson was not only murdered, but that the murderer was free to roam the EMU campus until almost two months after the fact.

A report by the state appointed Board of Regents claimed that some administrators knew about the murder, and had “knowingly hidden information” from students and Dickenson’s family.

Once the event became public, EMU was forced to pay hefty fines, and to fire key officials, including EMU President, John Fallon.

“I would rather be fired than to be involved in something like that,” Hernandez said. “I can guarantee you that nothing like that will ever happen to UTSA on my watch.

“I take a lot of precautions to make sure that UTSAPD is in compliance with the Clery act, like making sure Merritt has those reports done by Oct. 1 every year; but, I also provide weekly reports, which helps both student and police find the target issues on campus before they become a problem,” Hernandez said.

For information on annual and daily crime reports and statistics, visit the UTSA police department Web site at www.utsa.edu/utsaped.

As of press time, the link to the weekly reports provided on the police Web site was down, and statistics for 2007 were not available online.

For more information on crimes in the public property areas surrounding the UTSA campuses visit the San Antonio Police Department website at http://www.sanantonio.gov/sapd/indexcrime/asap.