Crime down at UM during 2001-08, U.S. data reveal

By ALEXANDER B. PEARCE
School of Communication
University of Miami

When students first visit the University of Miami campus in Coral Gables, they are often struck by the lush landscaping and the beautiful weather. Friendly tour guides provided by the school proudly tout the state-of-the-art teaching facilities and dormitories.

But more than almost any other feature of the campus, safety is mentioned more than anything else. Students at UM are safe from many of the dangers and crimes that plague other schools.

But why?

According to data gathered from The Campus Safety and Security Data Analysis Cutting Tool, a government report that gathers crime statistics from every university in the country, the total number of crimes committed on the University of Miami campus has dropped by 52 percent from 2001 to 2008.

While violent crime at UM is relatively uncommon, burglary of varying types is somewhat more widespread. For example, there hasn’t been a reported incidence of murder or manslaughter at the UM campus from 2001 to 2008, nor have the number of reported aggravated assaults each year ever entered into the double digits. On the other hand, almost every year since 2001 has seen 30 or more reported burglaries.

While this may seem like a lot of theft, when compared to other universities in the state UM’s reputation for safety is shown to be well-deserved. As of the 2008 report, UM dealt with 20 percent fewer burglaries than the University of Florida and 17 percent  fewer crimes overall.

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UM UF
Total Crimes Committed On-Campus 2001 97 38
Total Crimes Committed On-Campus 2008 47 57
Change in Crime Rate -52% 51%

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Members of UM’s security team feel that their vigilant efforts are the reason for the relatively low crime rate.

Tony Johnson, a maintenance worker with the University of Miami Parking Department, has been temporarily working security in the Pearson-Mahoney parking garage for nearly a month.

“It’s just safe, you know?” said Johnson. “They’ve got me at the front gate and the bike patrol rides through here once every half hour. Between me watching the cars that come in and the patrol looking for anything suspicious, this place is pretty secure.”

The University has several different security initiatives put in place that are designed to ensure safety across the campus, thanks in large part to the efforts of UM’s personal police department.

Scattered across the Coral Gables campus are Blue Light Phones, numbering more than 100. Each phone provides a direct link with the University of Miami Police Department, allowing students in jeopardy to contact help should an emergency arise. If a student picks up the phone but is unable to speak, an officer is immediately dispatched to look into the situation at the phone site.

Along with the Blue Light Phone Program, the UMPD also provide free safety escorts to students and faculty at all hours of the day and night. These safety escorts allow members of the UM community to venture anywhere on campus without fear of becoming victimized by crime. Police officers and affiliated security personnel are sent out to escort students and faculty to wherever they might need to go at any time of day.

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