By Sarah Siock
With the COVID-19 pandemic causing more students to live at home in 2020, Rider’s campus saw an overall decline in crime and fires, according to Public Safety’s annual Security and Fire Safety report.
The report, which was released on Sept. 29, details crime and fire statistics in 2020 on-campus with information compiled by Public Safety, Student Affairs, Residence Life, Facilities Management, Community Standards and local police.
“The Department of Public Safety encourages members of the Rider community to use this report as a guide for safe practices on and off-campus. It is important for the campus community to report incidents because on-campus safety is a shared responsibility. Reporting helps us publish accurate data, and it helps inform where and how we patrol,” said Director of Public Safety James Waldon.
Public Safety placed the report’s statistics into two categories: criminal offenses and liquor, drug and weapon violations.
Under criminal offenses, Rider saw a decrease in fondling incidents from four in 2019 to zero in 2020. Domestic violence incidents also declined from 10 in 2019 to six in 2020. However, there were three reported rapes in 2020, which was an increase from one in 2019.
There were no reported cases of murder and non-negligent manslaughter, manslaughter by negligence, statutory rape, incest or dating violence in 2020, which was also the case in 2018 and 2019 at Rider’s Lawrenceville campus.
Burglary reports decreased from two to one. There were no incidents of robbery, aggravated assaults and arson. Reports of stalking also declined with only one report in 2020 versus three in 2019.
As for liquor violations, there were no arrests on Rider’s campus. However, there were 33 disciplinary referrals related to liquor violations, a decline from 58 in 2019. Drug law violations also decreased with seven arrests compared to 14 in 2019. The report shows just three disciplinary referrals for drug violations, which was a steep decline from 13 in 2019 and 14 in 2018. The report also shows no weapon violations, arrests or related disciplinary referrals in 2020.
Waldon said the decline in crime “is in proportion to a reduced number of students on campus.”
Another decline was seen in residential fires. The report shows no reported fires in dorm buildings, while two residential fires occurred in 2019. Fire safety checks are completed throughout the year by Residence Life staff and The Fire Marshal’s Office of Lawrence Township annually inspects all buildings on campus.
Associate Dean of Residence Life Roberta Butler said, “National fire safety month is October so we conduct specific fire safety inspections in the first three weeks of October. During closing period [Thanksgiving, winter and spring breaks] inspections we will check for and document any fire safety violations.”
Butler explained that during fire safety checks, staff members conduct visual inspections looking for violations outlined in the Student Code of Conduct.
Waldon added that all residence halls and Greek houses are equipped with automatic fire sprinklers and a fire alarm system, with smoke detectors and sprinklers located in all residence rooms. All Public Safety officers are trained annually to extinguish incipient stage fires at the Mercer County’s Fire Academy.
“The safety and security of our campus is of the utmost importance. We can create and support great communities when we partner together to keep each other safe,” said Butler.