Crime in Athens (and OUr role in the numbers)

As we all know, Athens isn’t exactly a place notorious for it’s crime scene, but we’ve still got our own assortment of non-law-abiding citizens (even if that means something as common as underage drinking).

As the Ohio University Police Department Crime Statistics from 2010-2012 show, a majority of crime-committers are arrested by the Ohio University Police Department.

But does this mean most crimes are committed by Ohio University students? It seems like, based on the statistics, many students would think this to be true.

“I would certainly say that the majority of crimes are committed by students. It makes sense. College students have a tendency to be involved with alcohol, drugs and other relatively minor offenses. However, while students may be the majority, I wouldn’t say that many of the crimes committed are all that notable or a threat to safety,” said Ryan Boyd, a senior studying Journalism.

It’s difficult to say, but the facts don’t exactly add up in our favor. Based on the statistics in the 2012 Clery Report, about 53% of the total arrests were liquor law arrests and about 33% of arrests were drug law arrests. And with a student population where underage drinking, fake IDs and sneaking into the bars is about as inevitable as litter on the streets after Palmer Fest, it’s easy to jump to conclusions and assume we’re the main perpetrators. Not to mention, about 80% of the arrests made in 2012 were by the Ohio University Police Department, as opposed to the local PD.

“It’s hard to determine, but statistically speaking, most crime is committed by people under the age 25 (which a majority of college students fit into). Given that Athens is a small college town, one could reasonably conclude that a majority of these crimes- drug and alcohol violations and sex offenses- are students. However, arson and burglary could be also due to adolescents living in town,” said Jennifer Steele, Ph.D, a visiting Sociology professor at Ohio University.

Factoring in the fest weekends, though, as large arrest weekends, might play an important role in these numbers.

“The police are more likely to crack down on this type of crime during large parties block parties like Halloween, and if you look at the statistics from a few weeks ago, according to the Columbus Dispatch, 13 OU students, 13 from other colleges and 19 non-students were arrested. However, a number of studies show that college students do consume more alcohol and drugs than their noncollege peers who are in the same age group,” she added.

Which makes this tricky. This past Halloween, 100 people were arrested, according to The Post. However, of the 45 people arrested by the Athens police, only 13 were Ohio University students. “Data made available Sunday might also dispel the idea that Ohio University students behave better during Halloween than out-of-town college students do,” stated The Post‘s Halloween recap.

Despite the fact that initial assumptions point fingers at students, the statistics show that a number of arrests are made by out-of-towners, indicating that many Ohio University students are well-informed when it comes to alcohol and drug laws.

“I’m pretty aware of the laws. I know what I’m not allowed to do, and I know only 13 of the 40-something arrests on Halloween were OU students,” said Nick Hudeck, a sophomore studying Engineering. “You have to be 21, you can’t have illegal drugs, and you can’t drink in the streets are some of the general rules that everyone should know.”

Still, it’s easy to make assumptions that students are the crime-committers, said Steele. “But that’s just an assumption. I can’t give you a solid answer.”

Nonetheless, the university tries to educate students on staying safe and arrest-free.

Even with all of these statistics, it’s hard to determine the true nature of OU students’ role in crime in Athens. Sure, Ohio University students do have their fair share of arrests on off-weekends, but other data shows that we’re not the sole perpetrators. From Halloween 2012 to Halloween 2013,  arrests have decreased, and this is a trend we hope to see with all of our future fests.

For information a bit easier on the eyes, check out my Infogram on the Athens crime statistics from 2010-2012.

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