URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — A new report shows crime on the University of Illinois’ campus was down in almost every area last year, but police say, it’s a work in progress. They say a lot of that improvement is thanks to police officers being more involved with students.
Police have been trying to be more visible on campus, especially in the first few weeks of school. They walked around and got to know students. They’re also holding classes to teach people things like how to report crimes and prevent them.
“No place is crime-free, but I think I do a pretty good job,” said University of Illinois Police Chief Craig Stone.
Many students, when choosing a school, look at how safe that campus is. That’s one thing University of Illinois police say, they are confident about. Police track their numbers every year and compare them. They released a report Friday, showing crime going down in almost every category, including vehicle theft and aggravated assault.
“For the most part, my experience, I’ve had a safe time here,” said student Howie Mooney. “Obviously there’s people out there who you can’t really trust around campus, but I think that’s everywhere.”
Other students we talked with say part of the reason they feel safe is officers are no stranger to them.
“There’s always police driving around that I see,” said student Kayla Segovia.
Despite the good news, the report shows not every area of crime decreased. While there were fewer reports of rape in 2018 than 2017, 35 to 30, that number was still well above 2016’s which was 17 reports. Fondling reports also went up from 14 to 17. That’s up from only four in 2016.
“In some of those cases, some of the individuals are repeat offenders, and so we have people come forward and report that information, we can apprehend those individuals,” said Stone.
While the U of I is overall a safe campus for students, police say there’s always room for improvement.
“We always wanna look for ways that we can do a better job, and one of the things is educating the campus community and how they can keep themselves safe, so we want them to call us if they see something suspicious,” said Stone.
Police say they now have a thousand more cameras on campus than they did last year – up from 1,800 to 1,900. Another area police are trying to improve is unattended property and bicycle theft.
Police started a community police academy last year for students, faculty and staff. It trains them on what police do and how they do it. Police believe that improves relationships with the community. Those classes start again in a few weeks. You can register here.
A full list of the report can be found here.