Campus / Campus Safety / News / February 29, 2012

Alarmed by decrease in campus incidents?

Those who follow the Campus Safety Log on a weekly basis may have been puzzled recently at the declining number of entries in the log. In, 2011 there was an average of 91 entries a month. This year, the average is down to 61 a month.

What is the cause of this decline?

“It’s an interesting question,” Director of Campus Safety John Schlaf said. There is a fairly simple answer, and it lies in fire alarms.

Over the last decade, the campus has averaged roughly 30 fire alarms a month, typically from causes such as burnt food in microwaves, though nearly half of the alarms were due to unknown causes. Actual fires on campus are rare.

In 2011, alarm numbers took a slight dip to 27 a month. For the first two months of 2012, though, “our numbers are down significantly,” Schlaf said. Fire alarms across campus are currently going off only around 15 times a month.

The probable cause for this decline is an upgrade of the fire alarm system over the summer. The new system has been triggered less frequently, resulting in fewer unnecessary alarms.

There are two minor caveats. Schlaf notes that campus safety violations have historically tended to drop during colder months, and there have only been two months in the year so far, so it may be too early to draw any sort of definitive conclusion.

Apart from fire alarms, none of the other categories that regularly appear in the log have changed significantly.

“Activity on campus is generally the same,” Schlaf said. “We’re not doing anything differently, and it doesn’t seem the students are doing anything differently.”

The Department of Campus Safety is only mandated to report on serious crimes such as arson or assault. However, in line with the standard practice of the Galesburg Police Department, the decision was made to publish the entirety of the logs, except where it would interfere with an ongoing investigation or compromise the privacy of a victim.

There are typically around 1,000 entries in the Campus Safety Log in an average year. The high was reached in 2010 with 1,058 total entries, and the low in 2011, with 905.

Matt Barry
Matt Barry is a senior majoring in international relations and double minoring in economics and German. This is his third year working for TKS, having served previously as discourse editor. He has worked for such organizations as the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Premier Tourism Marketing and the Council on American Islamic Relations-Chicago, where his work appeared in such publications as Leisure Group Travel, Ski & Ride Club Guide and The Chicago Monitor. Matt has written his political opinion column, "The Voice of Reason," weekly for three years, which finished in first place at the 2012 Illinois College Press Association conference and was also recognized at the 2013 conference.

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