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Your GSUPD report analysis: Breaking down 59 pages of crime stats and safety initiatives into one

Photo by Unique Rodriguez | The Signal

2018 saw the highest number of crimes reported at Georgia State in at least three years.

Nearly 250 drug arrests and 80 drug law violations were recorded last year by the Georgia State University Police Department, according to their newly released 2019 Annual Safety Net Campus Security and Fire Safety Reports. Both those numbers are up over 30% compared to 2017. Drug arrests in particular have increased close to 300% since 2016, due in large part to a spike of arrests on public property.

Liquor law violation referrals, primarily in on-campus residential facilities, also increased in 2018, with over 100 reported cases. However, actual arrests dropped from 92 total in 2017 to 66 in 2018.

As for violent crime, robberies dropped by nearly 50% between 2017 and 2018 — from 12 to 6 and 7, respectively. Meanwhile, the reported number of rapes on the Atlanta campus spiked from 3 in 2017 to 11 in 2018, all reportedly occurring in residential facilities.

Beyond the Downtown campus, the Georgia State Perimeter campuses continue their trend of being largely absent of crime, with the most notable statistic being four burglaries in and around the Clarkston campus in 2018. The Alpharetta campus has gone three years without a single reported crime, according to the report.

In addition to crime statistics, the annual report serves to highlight the GSUPD’s procedures, including various divisions and several crime prevention programs it offers. Those programs include everything from drug and alcohol awareness, domestic violence prevention, self-defense techniques and active shooter responses.

The department’s Crime Prevention Unit often organizes the programs upon request.

“We tried to schedule them ourselves, but there would often be a low turnout, if anyone came at all. It’s usually faculty and staff that want it more than students,” said Sgt. Ericka Lewis, who is with the GSUPD Crime Prevention Unit. “But this month, we’ve done quite a lot.”

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On Oct, 17, the department, in coordination with Student Victim Assistance, hosted an informational session regarding campus carry and how to handle a potential active shooter situation.

“We like to tailor that program to the specific work area,“ Lewis said. “We’ll come in and look at the office space, evaluate where the exits are and train people to be aware of their surroundings.”

Officers recommend escaping or hiding should be the main priority in an active shooter situation but also advise attendees how to fight back, should they need to.

“I’ll look at what things they could modify or change to reinforce the area, or what they could use as a weapon,” Lewis said. “You may not bring a weapon with you, but there are other things you can use, like scissors, hot coffee.”

The report does not bring attention to Georgia’s campus carry law, other than providing a link to a campus carry page on the police department’s website for more information. At the time of writing, the link in the report was broken, but safety.gsu.edu/safety-and-you/ has the information on campus carry.

The department’s services extend beyond training programs, offering 24/7 safety escorts upon request.

“We get [escort requests] quite often when it starts to get dark,” Lewis said. “Going from the parking lot to a building, or from class to a residence hall. We even give escorts down to the parking lots by the stadium.”

The department even offers vehicle assistance, such as helping students jump-start dead car batteries or change flat tires.

Close to half of the Safety Net report focuses on Title IX, the university’s sexual misconduct policy and the resources available for sexual assault and rape victims. 

Under Georgia law, rape is legally defined as the “carnal knowledge,” that is, any penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ, of a “female forcibly and against her will.” The rape of a male, or intercourse with other parts of the body, is classified as aggravated sodomy. There is not a clear distinction between the two in the Georgia State crime statistics.

In addition to the 11 rapes reported in 2018, there were 17 cases of dating violence and 9 cases of stalking reported to police last year at the Downtown campus. The only other campus reporting crimes under the Violence Against Women Act was the Dunwoody campus, with two reports of stalking.

“If you are assaulted, the shock of the assault may make it difficult for you to think clearly or move quickly, but if or when you are able to flee your assailant, get to a safe place and call the local or Georgia State Police as soon as possible,” the report states.

The Safety Net report offers advice on how to avoid situations where sexual assault can occur, as well as detailing the process and resources victims should seek out after an incident. 

“Also, contact a friend or a family member; it is important to seek the support and comfort of people you trust. A professionally trained counselor also can help. The Georgia State Police can refer you to one,” the report states.

Fire incidents on Georgia State campuses are also recapped in the report, which have been largely non-existent. Only two incidents are documented, both cooking-related in residential facilities in 2016, with no injuries or damage reported.