Duke releases annual crime report

September 30, 2010 By Leanora MinaiThe annual crime report for Duke shows increases in some reported offenses from 2008 to 2009, but university officials say this is due in part to increased awareness and new reporting procedures.

The Annual Campus Security Report, released this week by the university, shows increases in reports of forcible sex offenses, robbery and aggravated assault. There was also an uptick in liquor law violations referred for disciplinary action.

"It's important for students, faculty and staff to be informed about the number of reported incidents," said John Dailey, chief of police at Duke. "We certainly compare favorably to our peer institutions. Although we would like all our numbers to be zero, that's not a realistic expectation. This is an opportunity to come together and take this information and see what we can learn from it and work to reduce the numbers in the future."

The report is mandated by the federal Clery Act, which requires universities to publish an annual report disclosing campus security policies and three years worth of selected crime statistics. As directed by last year's Higher Education Opportunity Act, the report also includes information about Duke's emergency notification and response and evacuation procedures.

An area that saw an increase is forcible sex offenses, which went from five reported incidents in 2008 to 13 in 2009, according to the report.

University officials said the increase in the number of sex offenses may be the result of adjustments in reporting. Last year, a new policy for reporting sex offenses was enacted, and it says that any university official informed of an allegation of sexual misconduct involving a student is expected to file a report with the Office of Student Conduct.

Dailey said the sex offense category represents a range of illegal behavior, from inappropriate touching to rape. Of the 13 sex offense cases at Duke, eight were classified as forcible fondling and seven of the 13 cases involved acquaintances, Dailey said.

"We want the community to know that this behavior is not acceptable and that Duke has many helpful resources," Dailey said.

Dailey said a factor in the jump in robberies from two in 2008 to seven in 2009 may be due to the economic downturn. Also, he said, three of the seven robberies occurred on public property but because of their proximity to campus, they are counted in Duke's annual statistics.

Another area that saw an increase is aggravated assault, according to the report. There were six in 2008 and 12 in 2009. Dailey said that Duke has started capturing incidents of assault by patients on medical personnel in this category.

"All but one of the cases involved assault on staff members by disruptive patients in our hospitals and clinics," Dailey said.

Referrals of liquor law violations for disciplinary action also increased - from 320 in 2008 to 363 in 2009. "We believe the alcohol numbers are a result of a combination of factors, including enhanced education and training and improved communication and reporting," Dailey said.

Dailey said that overall reported crime at Duke is low, and the number of robberies and sexual assaults are lower so far in 2010, compared to the same period in 2009. Still, he said, "in a university community, one incident is considered too many. We all need to work together to minimize crime."

Dailey encouraged the Duke community members to review the latest annual report and familiarize themselves with Duke's safety policies and procedures.