Crime stats mixed at UNL

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In November 2011, the UNL Police Department says it handled 441 calls.

Stories and photos by Brandi Susnjar, NewsNetNebraska

“Protecting Tomorrow Leaders, Today” is the motto of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Police Department. They hope to provide a safe and secure environment, but concede they can’t stop every crime on the UNL campus.

Based on the UNL’s Crime and Safety Report of 2011, most campus crimes are down.  Motor vehicle theft, assault and obscene phone calls decreased from 2009 to 2010.   Drinking on campus and robberies remain a problem for the UNL Police Department.

Dry Campus

UNL has a dry campus policy.   Alcohol is prohibited on university grounds, even if you are 21 or older.  However, students still get caught having with alcohol in dorm rooms.

In 2009, there were 416 liquor arrests by the campus police. The number decreased to 321 in 2010.   Another 367 liquor violations were handed out to students by UNL dorm staffers.

“It’s a cultural thing,” said UNL Police Officer Aaron Pembleton. “People go to the bars downtown then come back onto campus drunk. It’s a norm.”

With 17 patrol officers and eight community service officers, the UNL police try to put a stop to underage drinking on campus. But they can’t always stop students like  Kristi Gentleman.

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Photo Courtesy of Kristi Gentleman
Kristi Gentleman was cited for having alcohol in Smith Residence Hall in 2008.

Busted

Kristi Gentleman knew it was against the rules, but she never thought she would get caught.

In April 2008, Gentleman and three of her friends decided to have a relaxing night in.  With the pressure of finals just around the corner, they started drinking liquor in Gentleman’s second floor dorm room. As the night went on, it became anything but relaxing.

“There was this guy who was with us, a friend’s boyfriend,” said the Omaha native. “He started getting really loud and we kept telling him to be quiet.”

When the 19-year-old heard knocking on the door, she knew she was in trouble.

“The RA (resident assistant) went and got the police,” Gentleman said. “I blew a .167 blood alcohol content.”

Gentleman’s blood alcohol content was two times the legal limit.  She was cited for minor in possession (MIP). She was ordered to do 24 hours of community service and take diversion. She did her service hours at the UNL Campus Recreational Center, where she painted railings and cleaned the pool.

“It wasn’t that bad,” Gentleman said. “Except I thought I was going to pass out from all the chemical fumes. But I kept going, you know. I had to get my hours.

Pembleton said the UNL police department deals with alcohol violations more than any other campus crime.  Police say that can  lead to other crimes.

“Most of the other crimes, like vandalism, assaults, trespassing, stem from people drinking,” Pembleton said.

In November 2011, 12 MIP citations were handed out by UNL police. Pembleton said the department tries their hardest to steer students away from drinking.

“We do a lot of presentations,” Pembleton said. “We are trying to motivate students with other things to do than drinking. We are trying to educate them about alcohol.”

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The UNL police station is located inside the 17th and R parking garage.

Robberies

In 2010, robberies on campus spiked . In 2008 and 2009, there were no reported robberies at UNL.  In 2010, there were two. That may not seem like a lot unless you are the person who gets robbed. Andrew Jones never thought it would happen to him.

Jones went to the campus rec a couple of times a week to play basketball. Jones and many basketball players leave their bags by the side of the court while they play.

“There is kind of a code among the basketball players up there,” said Jones. “It was a trust, respect.”

Jones said he would kept his keys, wallet, iPod and clothes in his bag. A few months into the semester, the 20-year-old sophomore and his friends got a rude awakening.

“My bag was dug through and my iPod was taken,” Jones said.

He contacted the rec staff and reported it stolen. But because there weren’t any cameras on the court, Jones knew he was out of luck. But he did learn his lesson.

“From then on, I tried more often than not to lock my stuff in lockers or at the rec center desks,” Jones said.

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There are about 50 blue light safety polls around campus for students to notify the UNL police in case of an emergency.

Changing it up

The UNL police believes they do everything they can to minimize crimes on campus. They give presentations about the effects of alcohol. Blue lights are put up around campus for students in case they are in an uncomfortable position. They know that with just a push of a button, the campus police will be there. UNL police believe it is about making students known they are around and here to help.

“We try to stay very active on campus,” Pembleton said. “We want to have a physical presence on campus and guide students into making the right decisions.”

Pembleton said that is why they changed their slogan to “Dial 2 for Blue.” And with a change to their phone number, he hopes people won’t hesitate to report a crime in the future.

“It is really a university as a whole that is trying to stop it,” Pembleton said.

To learn more about campus crime, visit the UNL campus police website at http://police.unl.edu/

Click the link below to learn about the UNL campus gun lockers.

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