Clarion, Pa.- Approximately 60 incidents have been reported to Public Safety this fall between Aug. 21 and Oct. 25, according to The Clarion Call’s crime blotter. Thefts, hit-and-runs, alcohol-related cases and drug complaints are the most common crimes on campus this semester.
It might be easy to say that crime on Clarion’s campus has risen. However, Director of Public Safety and Police Chief Jason Hendershot said that that is not the case. By the end of the school year, he said he believes there will not be any significant increase in crime on campus.
“I believe we have about the same number of incidents as we historically have had. I think we’re seeing a slight increase based on more efficient reporting and more people being encouraged to report crimes,” he said.
Hendershot added that though reported incident numbers have risen, some cases that were reported were not necessarily crimes but still were investigated.
“We find some of them aren’t actually issues that have occurred, so that’s going to take the total number down.” So far Hendershot has found that two reported incidents did not occur.
Aside from a sexual assault reported earlier this semester, Hendershot said there have not been any violent incidents. He said many cases, like theft, are opportunity crimes, meaning the perpetrator acts when he or she has the chance to do so.
He said, “We have a very high clearance rate. We are finding the people responsible…As far as the enforcement end, we’re solving the crimes that are being reported to us, but people need to exercise a little more caution.”
Hendershot said Public Safety also assists with several programs throughout the year. Scheduled for November is the Rape Aggression Defense class, a self-defense course that teaches practical crime prevention skills. A.L.I.C.E. active shooter response and bomb threat training is also available upon request.
“Most of it is basically just trying to get the word out on ways people can be smarter and safer in the decisions that they make,” he said. Hendershot added there will be at least six more scheduled events before the end of this semester.
Besides attending safety programs, there are some steps students can take to stay safe.
Hendershot advised students to avoid leaving their property unattended, be aware of their surroundings, not admit unfamiliar people into residence buildings, pay attention to situations and take note of uncomfortable feelings they may have.
“They just need to be conscious that not everybody is trustworthy and honest, and they need to be vigilant…A lot of it comes to just being aware of your surroundings and being aware of what’s going on,” he said.
Suites on Main Community Assistant Hannah Gloeckl added, “Students should always know that they can call emergency services, and that they should never be afraid to talk to someone if they have an issue or feel uncomfortable.”
The university website lists additional tips: avoid leaving doors unlocked or propped open, do not lend apartment or dorm keys to others and do not accept drinks from others. Students should also inform others of their whereabouts and be cautious when posting personal information on social media.
Students who have information about a crime or need emergency police assistance should dial 911 immediately. To submit information, students can fill out a B.A.R.T. referral form, email Public Safety at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete an anonymous tip form at www.clarion.edu/policetip.
Public Safety is located next to Becker Hall at Thorn 1 Building and can be reached at (814) 393-2111 or campus extension x2111.
Hendershot said, “If you think it’s something the police need to be aware of, call and let us know.”