Tennessee Campus Crime Report Released

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (“TBI”) recently released their annual Crime on Campus Report for 2011.  This report contains an interesting look at crime on college campuses in Tennessee and merits some attention.  Overall, the number of reported crimes is up 4.2% from 2010 but is lower than those reported in 2009.  The most common crime reported was theft from a building which accounted for 21% of reported crimes.  Unfortunately, the number of assaults reported increased by 6.5% but thankfully the number of aggravated assaults was down 8.8% from a year ago.  Of most concern is that the number of “Forcible Sex Offenses” reported rose from 30 in 2010 to 44 in 2011, a one year increase of 46.7%.
Interestingly, the most likely day for the commission of a theft crime was a Thursday, with Sunday having the least number of reported offenses.  As far as drug crimes (1 in 10 crimes reported on college campuses were drug crimes), those happened (as could be expected) on Friday or Saturday nights between the hours of 9:00 P.M and 3:00 A.M.  As for alcohol crimes, the most common offenders were 19 year olds, and the number of male offenders was over double the number of females.  As a criminal defense attorney who represents students charged with underage drinking I would be interested in seeing how common that specific charge is.  Unfortunately the report does not specify and just accounts for generic “liquor law offenses”.  The report also includes the crime of “drunkenness” which is not illegal in the state of Tennessee.  There is an offense for public intoxication in Tennessee but that charge means more than just being drunk in public with specific criteria that must be met.
Two colleges I was particularly interested in were the University of the South (or Sewanee, where I graduated) and the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga (our local university).  Sewanee appears to have a very high rate of burglaries and thefts but I think that the high number is partly due to the unique setting of the school.  The University’s campus is huge (over 13,000 acres) and encompasses a large amount of private residences and an entire community.  The campus police department is also the police department for that community and so I would it likely that many of the reported crimes don’t involve students or the campus directly.  The rate of “liquor law violations” is the highest by far of any college in the state (51 per 1,000) and indicates that at least part of the reputation of the school is accurate.  Again it would be interesting to know what specific violations these are especially in light of the Vice-Chancellor’s sensible stance on underage drinking laws.
The statistics from UTC are encouraging as they are fairly low especially given the campus’s urban location.  Especially low are the numbers of violent crimes reported although it is important to remember that any violent crime is devastating to the victim and to the community as a whole.  Again the number of liquor law violations is relatively high as the UTC rate is the fourth highest in the state.  However, the statistics in this report in the area of alcohol are a bit questionable as many campuses report zero incidents. 
Overall, the report is fairly positive and many of the reported crimes are falling over a longer time frame.  For example, DUI violations have shown an overall decrease by 25.8% since 2008.  We can all hope that crime falls on college campuses (and everywhere else) and that are police resources are most utilized to combat those crimes that have the most damaging effects on our communities.

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