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Campus Safety Hasn’t Sent a Crime Alert this Semester, Despite Violent Crime Near Campus

Courtesy of Tony WebsterTwo shootings and two attempted armed robberies were reported in the past week near campus.

Although there have been six reported instances of violent crime so far this semester on or near Loyola’s campuses, the school’s police force has yet to send out email notifications to Loyola students and staff about the incidents.

On Sept. 17, a Loyola student was brutally beaten and robbed near the intersection of West Devon Avenue and North Lakewood Avenue, resulting in a host of injuries. Campus Safety didn’t send a crime alert.

This is the second year in a row students haven’t seen crime alerts — which are emailed to students and staff when a violent crime that occurs near campus and presents a threat — at this point in the school year. However, five notifications were sent in 2016 and two in 2015 between the beginning of the semester and mid-September, The Phoenix previously reported.

In total, Campus Safety has reported 30 incidents of violent and nonviolent crimes on or near Loyola’s Water Tower and Lake Shore Campuses since the beginning of the semester. Six of those have been violent crimes, including two reports of strong-arm robbery, a criminal sexual assault, a criminal sexual abuse and two batteries, according to Campus Safety’s public crime logs.

The crime log includes all reports to Campus Safety, even if they’re unsubstantiated, and not every violent crime results in an alert. Campus Safety publishes the crime log on its website in compliance with the Clery Act, a law requiring universities to be transparent about crime and security information if they receive federal aid.

Even though Campus Safety publishes the crime log, students aren’t notified when the crime log is updated, so they would have to seek out crime information if they want it. The Phoenix conducted an investigation last year which found only a fraction of crimes near campus appeared in Campus Safety’s records. The reports also included missing or inaccurate information, The Phoenix found.

The last crime alert sent by Campus Safety was on July 27, when two people without Loyola affiliation were shot steps away from Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus — one on the 6700 block of North Winthrop Avenue and the other was 6500 block of North Sheridan Road. The crime alert was sent out nearly six hours after the shootings, and a shooting near campus the night before went without a crime alert, but was referenced in the July 27 email.

The case of criminal sexual assault is being “handled by another jurisdiction,” according to the crime log. This means following CPD and Campus Safety’s response, CPD took over the investigation. The log also said one of the battery reports has been “cleared by service,” which means the officers resolved the situation without necessarily making an arrest.

The Clery Act 2016 guidelines state a crime alert must be sent “for any Clery Act crime that represents an ongoing threat to the safety of students or employees.”

An ongoing threat, according to the Clery Act, means a report to campus police represents a “serious and continuing threat to students and employees.”

Campus Safety Sgt. Tim Cunningham and Chief of Police Thomas Murray didn’t return The Phoenix’s request for comment for this story, but in a 2016 interview with The Phoenix, Cunningham said the department is wary of sending too many crime alerts because they should be taken seriously and not overlooked.

“Too many crime alerts could lead to students starting to ignore the messages,” Cunningham said in 2016. “This is why we do not send out emails for every single incident on campus and is why we follow the [Clery Act] guidelines.”

Other Chicago universities are also subject to the Clery Act. Like Loyola, DePaul University Public Safety sends safety alerts to students and staff and has a public log — which only appears to include violent crime — on its website. DePaul Public Safety sends “DPU Alerts,” which are similar to Loyola’s crime alerts. As of Sept. 21, the logs indicate two violent crimes this month, a sexual abuse and an aggravated battery.

The University of Illinois at Chicago Police Department said it doesn’t provide the crime log online. A representative said the crime log is only available to people who come to the station and request it in person.

Northwestern University Police provides two daily crime blotters — one for the Evanston campus and one for the Chicago campus — on its website. As of Sept. 21, 42 reports were listed on the Evanston campus blotter, and 13 reports were listed on the Chicago campus blotter.

Both blotters included reports for violent and nonviolent crimes. The website also included a link to access the Evanston Police Department’s blotter and a list of the most commonly reported crimes.

All three universities, like Loyola, provide an annual report required by the Clery Act, which shows annual crime statistics on and near college campuses. Clery reports only show crimes on or directly adjacent to campus, so crimes that occur off campus but within Campus Safety’s patrol bounds aren’t always included.

Samantha Thu, a first-year international student from Myanmar studying nursing at Loyola, said she feels safe on campus, but she wants Campus Safety to take crime more seriously. She said campus police should take responsibility for students’ safety, especially those who are far from their families.

“I think they should take more action because if something happens to students, it’s their responsibility,” Thu, 19, said. “Especially for me, I’m an international student, if something happens to me my family cannot come directly, quickly. It makes them feel unsafe. I don’t want them to worry about me.”

Kirsten Dietrich, 21, said she doesn’t usually feel safe walking alone at night to her home on Lakewood and Arthur.

“It depends on the time of day, like at night … I prefer not to be alone,” Dietrich, a senior psychology major, said. “But in the daytime I usually feel safe.”

 

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News Editor

Mary Norkol is a junior journalism and international studies double major and The Phoenix’s news editor. Mary began as a news writer and worked as assistant news editor during the spring of 2018. She specializes in covering Loyola’s university affairs. A Minnesota native, Mary spends an absurd amount of time arguing with her roommates about how to say “bag.”

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