published Monday, April 7th, 2014

Report: Campus crime falls in Tennessee

UTC crimes at a glance:

Crime 2013 // 2012 // 2011 // 2001

Forcible sex offenses: 1 // 2 // 1 // 1

Larceny/theft: 128 // 149 // 136 // 130

Drug violations: 60 // 63 // 80 // 19

Fraud: 7 // 3 0 // 8

Assault: 14 // 24 // 28 // 33

Source: TBI Crime on Campus report

Total crime dropped 11.6 percent on Tennessee college campuses in 2013, according to the TBI's annual campus crime report.

The report, released Friday, said the number of assaults and thefts fell while forcible sex offenses and fraud increased.

Fifty forcible sex offenses were reported on campuses in the state for 2013 compared to just 28 in 2010 and 40 in 2012.

Drug-related crimes increased only slightly from 2012 to 2013, but the 818 reported drug violations in 2013 are the most that have been reported in any year since at least 1998, when online records begin.

Reports of theft continued to make up the largest category of crimes reported, but they dropped nearly 16 percent in 2013. Assault cases dropped to 686 after ballooning to nearly 800 in 2012, according to the report.

"This report will hopefully assist law enforcement, institution administrators and government officials in planning their effort in the fight against crime," Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn said in a news release.

At UTC, the number of reported thefts, drug violations and assaults dropped from 2012 to 2013, while the number of fraud cases increased from three to seven.

Just one forcible sex offense was reported on the UTC campus in 2013, compared to two in 2012.

"What we do at UTC is we have an active police force; we try to encourage faculty, staff and students to report crimes when they happen," UTC spokesman Chuck Cantrell said.

"If we don't know about a crime, we can't deal with it. We don't mind when they report crimes. If we don't know about a crime, we can't deal with it. ... A campus that claims to have no crime is a campus that's not accurately reporting its crime statistics," he said.

At Chattanooga State Community College, 16 thefts were reported in 2013, up from nine in 2012. Drug violations decreased from eight to six and the number of assaults remained the same at nine. No sex offenses were reported.

According to the TBI report, Chattanooga State employs 21 security personnel for its campus, with a total population of 10,810. The campus population includes graduate students, faculty and staff as well as undergraduate students.

At UTC, where the total campus population is 12,324 and some students live on campus, 71 security personnel are employed.

"Because we're a small community we face every other issue that a community faces," Cantrell said. "We're happy that we have a campus where people feel empowered to call campus police and report crime because we know they'll be taken seriously."

The University of Memphis reported the most assaults, with 150, including cases handled by local authorities.

Vanderbilt University reported the most forcible sex offenses of any campus in the state last year, with 16. The report found that in 88 percent of sex-offense cases, the suspected offender was an acquaintance of the victim.

In theft cases, the majority of reported incidents occurred inside a building on campus.

UT-Knoxville reported the most drug-related cases with 164.

Just four crimes were reported at Bryan College in 2013, three of them burglaries.

At Cleveland State Community College, 11 crimes were reported, including two assaults and four thefts.

Of 43 crimes reported at Lee University, 33 were thefts. Similarly, 31 of 48 reported incidents at Southern Adventist University were thefts.

For the University of the South, statistics reported by the Sewanee Police Department include the campus and surrounding land owned by the school. In the report are 26 assaults, 31 burglaries, 39 thefts and 71 drug violations, according to the TBI.

Contact staff writer David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731.

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