posted 2012-04-26 00:13:57

Analysis of Crime at Hunter

Crime records from 2009 to present reveal trends

John Bolger

News Editor

Crime incidence at Hunter by month. Graph by John Bolger.
An analysis of Public Safety’s daily crime logs, which contain records from 2009 to the present, shows that while over- all crime has decreased since 2009, crimi- nal activity is still an ongoing problem at Hunter College. The daily crime logs are maintained in accordance with the Clery Act, which mandates that colleges receiv- ing federal financial aid make available to the public detailed information about crime on campus.

Crime at the main campus has de- creased slightly since 2009, which had 156 reported crimes. In 2010 there were 134 reported crimes. Crime rates for 2011 stayed roughly consistent with the 2010 levels, with 138 crimes reported. As of April 20 of this year there have been 53 reported crimes, a slight increase from the amount reported at the same time last year, which was 46.

Criminal activity around Hunter tends to increase in September, October and then again in March, according to the logs. June through August show a signifi- cant drop off in crime rates, likely due to the decrease in students present at the college over the summer. For the purpose of this analysis, the months of February through May represent the spring semes- ter and the months of September through December represent the fall semester.

The turnstiles, activated in August 2010, do not appear to have seriously impacted levels of crime at Hunter. Since 2009 there has been an ongoing trend of crime decrease at the main campus, which does not appear to have been significantly augmented by the turnstiles.

The 2010 spring semester had fewer reported crimes than in the previous spring semester, with 7 less reported inci- dents. The fall semester of 2010 – the first semester with active turnstiles installed at the main campus – saw roughly the same amount of crime as the 2010 spring semes- ter. However, crime was moderately lower than in the previous fall semester, which had 19 more reported crimes.

In 2011 crime increase associated with the month of March was roughly the same as the previous year, with four fewer crimes reported for the semester than the previous turnstile-free spring semester. The 2011 fall increase was similar to the 2010 surge, with five more crimes reported.

Richard Meier, deputy director of Pub- lic Safety said that he could not comment on whether turnstiles had reduced crime at Hunter because he had not examined the crime data to assess the efficacy of the turnstiles regarding incidence of crime. However, he did say that the turnstiles had reduced the amount of crime from non-Hunter students and professional criminals.

This graph shows the five most popular crimes since 2009. *Crimes for 2012 are lower than previous years because 2012 is in progress. Graph by John Bolger

“Most crimes that occur are crimes of opportunity,” he said, “where a stranger walks by an office and sees it is unlocked. There were professional thieves who used to go floor by floor and look for unoccu- pied offices ... that pretty much has since ended.”

Meier said that since the turnstiles have been installed there have been less re- ports of visitors ending up in places where they do not belong. He recounted how at Hunter it was once common to find outsid- ers loitering “on the 15th floor” with no legitimate reason. “Before the turnstiles, people would just wander in here,” he said.

Since 2009, the most popular crime. at the Main Campus has repeatedly been petit larceny, the theft of items valued less than $1000, which decreased to 32 inci- dents in 2010 from 48 in 2009. However, the number of petit larcenies nearly doubled in 2011, with the total number of incidents reaching 62. So far this year there have been 26 petit larcenies, whereas last year at this time there had been 22.

The second most common crime for all years was grand larceny, theft in excess of $1000 in value, which was at its highest in 2009 with 37 reports. Grand larceny also includes the theft of credit or debit cards where a thief potentially has access to $1000 or more, Meier said. The number decreased to 25 in 2010 and remained near this amount in 2011 with 21 incidents. So far this year there have been three reports of grand larceny, less than half the amount reported by this time last year

Harassment reports have remained consistent since 2009 with minor fluctuations occurring through the years. The number of burglaries remained identical in 2009 and 2010 but dropped significantly from 12 to seven in 2011. So far in 2012 there have been two reported burglaries, identical to the figures presented for last year at this time.

This year there has been one case of sexual abuse which occurred in Thomas Hunter Hall. The case is currently under investigation and is the only sexual abuse case in the four years of the data collec- tion. There was one incident of forcible touching last year, which occurred within the North Building.

The building with the most criminal activity is the West Building, which saw 61 reports last year and 20 so far this year. The North Building has the second highest crime with 44 incidents last year and 14 so far this year. Thomas Hunter Hall and the East Building have similar numbers of incident occurrences reported.

According to Meier, when the term ‘arrest’ appears on a daily crime log entry, it sometimes refers to the issuance of a “C summons,” which is a summons for appearance in court for a violation. The NYPD also issues this type of summons. One CUNY Public Safety administrator told the Envoy that a C summons is some- times issued “in lieu of arrest.”

The most common arrest at the main campus has been for drug-related viola- tions. In 2011 there were five drug arrests, the highest number for any year in the da- taset. This number is up slightly from 2009 when there were three drug arrests. So far this year there have been two drug arrests, both occurring at the West Building. In 2009 there were four liquor-law-related arrests, however there have been none in subsequent years.

The overall number of arrests has de- creased since 2009, which had a total of 13. In 2010 there were six arrests and in 2011 there were eight. So far this year there have been five arrests, which is far higher than by this time last year when only one arrest had occurred.

There have only ever been two arrests for larceny at Hunter since 2009, one of which occurred this year. Other arrests have been for trespassing, disorderly conduct, menacing, possession of stolen property and endangering the welfare of a child.