By Lauren Lavelle
Public Safety released the 2017 Security and Fire Safety reports to the Rider community on Sept. 27.
The reports, which are compiled by Public Safety, Student Affairs, Residence Life, Facilities Management, Community Standards and local police, are released at the beginning of every fall semester and detail the most current crime and fire statistics for the Lawrenceville and Princeton campuses.
“[Public Safety] encourages members of the Rider community to use [the reports] as guides for safe practices both on and off campus,” said Public Safety Captain Jim Flatley in a campus-wide email.
The reports examine statistics for two components — criminal offenses and liquor, drug and weapon violations.
In terms of liquor law violations, there were no arrests on campus or in residential facilities on the Lawrenceville campus in 2016 or 2017, a decrease from just two arrests in 2015. As for drug violations, there were 28 arrests on campus in 2017, a slight decrease from 2016’s 36 arrests.
Criminal offenses from 2017 mostly stayed consistent with their 2016 counterparts.
Burglary had a minor jump on the Lawrenceville campus with 15 cases compared to 2016’s 14 cases. Domestic violence cases showed a slight decrease from 2016 with only 12 cases reported on the Lawrenceville campus compared to the former 14. Motor vehicle theft also decreased from eight cases in 2016 to only one in 2017.
The most significant jump in regards to criminal offenses on the Lawrenceville campus was the arson cases from 2016 to 2017. The number rose from just one case in 2016 to eight total cases in 2017.
“All the instances of arson occurred in [Switlik Hall],” said Flatley. “It appears it was an anomaly that maybe we had someone living in there that was acting out.”
According to Flatley, four of the eight total incidents occurred on Oct. 14 of last year, prompting Public Safety to ensure extra safety measures were in place for Switlik residents.
“An officer was stationed in that residence hall for 24 hours a day for the next three days,” he said. “We worked with residence life staff, the Lawrence Township Police Department and the Lawrence Township Fire Marshall to figure out who was responsible for doing this.”
Along with increased patrol, Residence Life had a mandatory building meeting for Switlik residents and fliers were removed from bulletin boards and hallways.
“We had no [arson] incidents whatsoever after Oct. 14,” Flatley said.
Now, with last year’s events in mind, Flatley said the frequent fire safety checks for residence halls will be more thorough and will rely more on student incident reporting.
“[Your residence hall] is not your home. Mom and dad aren’t here,” he said. “Students have a certain responsibility they have to take upon themselves. If they see something wrong or out of the ordinary, we encourage them to call us so [Public Safety] can respond and check it out.”
Juli Ezzo, a community advisor and junior secondary education major, conducts four fire safety checks a year for Conover Hall.
“I look at the walls for things like tapestries and string lights,” she said. “I also check the outlets for illegal multi-plugs and extension cords.”
While new rules are not officially in place yet, Ezzo anticipates a few changes.
“We have had recent changes to how we can decorate our hallways,” Ezzo said. “I think the rules for residents’ rooms will stay the same.”