As the end of the year nears, a recap of crime reports on Florida A&M University’s campus showed rates have increased slightly compared to last year.
The number of grand thefts at student housing increased by 10 percent this year compared to 2007. Areas like Palmetto Street, Phase III and Paddyfoote had the most crime according to the FAMU police department.
Lt. Angela Kirkland, FAMU investigation commander, said the increase in crime is due to the higher number of students on campus than last year. She also said there are more students who are reporting incidents.
“We’ve got more students on campus and they are reporting more crime,” Kirkland said. “The economy also plays a big role and people have the mentality to say I have to get you before you get me. People just don’t care anymore.”
Tamara Williams, a second-year English student from Miami who lives in Phase III, said FAMU should put more law enforcers in the area to reduce the amount of thefts.
“There can be more police officers to make their presence known so that people who plan to steal can be turned away,” she said.
Phase III had a total of six grand thefts in spring and summer of 2008 and Paddyfoote had the most with 11 grand thefts, Kirkland said.
Roland Gaines, vice president of student affairs, said students need to play a role in preventing housing crime because police officers can only do so much.
“We have to find out what students are going to do,” Gaines said. “It has to be a partnership. Officers on overtime need students to take care of their properties.”
Esther Raymond, an actuarial science student from Trinidad and Tobago, said she locks her room even when going to the bathroom.
“I always lock up because anything could happen,” Raymond said. “I’m careful of who I trust and who I let come in my room.”
Kirkland said the increasing amount of crime in student housing comes from careless factors like leaving doors unlocked.
“Some doors in the resident areas do not lock properly and we ask students to let housing know if it doesn’t lock the correct way,” she said. “Students also tend to leave their doors unlocked and we’ve had cases where suspects will knock the door down.”
Kirkland advises students to take precautious measures.
“Students should lock their doors every time even if they are just going to the shower,” Kirkland said. “Have a buddy system with your roommate to make sure the doors stay locked because you don’t want to put yourself or your roommate at risk.”
Along with thefts, car break-ins in the spring and summer of 2008 have increased by 10 percent as well. Out of 32 car burglaries, the most break-ins occurred in the parking garage she said.
Kirkland said the FAMU department of safety requested more officers to patrol the parking garage more closely, but it is difficult to pick out a person who is suspect.
“It’s hard to isolate who belongs in the garage and who doesn’t,” Kirkland said. “The parking garage is in concealment itself. We don’t have cameras in the garage because we would rather protect people than property. Our cameras are programmed to look at large groups.”
The FAMU department of safety said it uses the program Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design to help stop crime on campus.
“CPTED is used to determine light levels, types of lights and the placement of light,” said Sgt. Sherri Luke, FAMU crime prevention officer. “The same is true for height, location, and type of landscaping.”
Samuel Houston, director of facilities planning and construction, said the university will upgrade lighting around campus over the next 6 months that will aid in crime prevention.
“We are in the process of redesigning areas along the set all the way down to Palmetto Street apartments,” he said. “We have lights along Wahnish Way, the multi-purpose teaching gym, the Quadrangle, and the dormitory areas.”
Additional lighting around areas like Gamble st have been part of the design, Houston added.
Tara Phillips, 21, a third-year business administration student from New York, said the new lights around campus would make students feel safer around campus.
“I think it’s a great idea because it would help out a lot with making students feel safe at all hours”, she said. “It also would make people less likely to commit a crime because they know more lights are out there.”
Before the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University tragedy in April of 2007, FAMU enforced the e2Campus alert system in place. Luke said there have been approximately 2,960 users since safety system started.
“E2Campus has helped law enforcement inform students and staff about safety concerns. It has been a tremendous help,” Luke said.
She added there are also security measures in place for the new FAMU Developmental Research School scheduled to open in 2009.
“Alarms, lighting, and safety orientation for staff and students are in place for the new school,” Luke said. “We also have a full-time school resource officer stationed at the school.”
Luke also said that students on campus can get involved in FAMU’s crime prevention efforts by joining the College Crime Watch chapter.
“We meet every Wednesday at Benjamin L. Perry in room 210 at 8 o’clock p.m.,” she said. “We welcome new members and look forward to their recommendations in regards to safety.”
For more information, visit The FAMU Department of safety Web site for crime statistics and prevention on campus.