The Amherst College Police Department (ACPD) sent an email to the community releasing the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistic Act Report, an annual statement of crime statistics over the past three years on Sept. 18.
The 74-page report, which is mandated by law, compiles data from the Office of Student Affairs, Amherst Health Services, the Counseling Center and ACPD records to indicate changes in crimes rates from 2014 through 2016. The Title IX coordinator submits statistics to the police department for sexual assault and rape reports. Along with crime records, the report includes procedures for emergency situations, legal definitions and resources for students on campus.
In 2016, the number of rape reports nearly halved from the previous two years, decreasing from nine reports to five. A more drastic decrease is seen in the amount of crimes categorized as violence against women, including dating violence, domestic violence and stalking. There were two instances of domestic violence crimes in 2016 in comparison to the six instances reported in both 2015 and 2014, and there were no reported incidences of stalking in this past year — a stark decline from the six reported in the year prior.
Chief of Police John Carter credits this decrease to partnership with departments on campus. “There is a lot of good educational work being done by campus partners in Office of Student Affairs, Title IX and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Centers, and we think that contributes to a better community,” he said in an email. Despite these decreases, Carter also said that “we can only count what is reported to those departments.”
Alcohol-related crimes have also dwindled significantly in the past three years, dropping from 74 in 2014 to 50 in 2016. Similarly, drug violations decreased from 30 to zero between 2014 and 2016. The police department has engaged in a new approach to handling alcohol- and drug-related issues, contributing to the decrease in arrests, according to the report.
Carter attributed these changes in liquor law arrests to the town police rather than the college’s police department.
“They adopted an early warning system around parties much like ACPD’s,” Carter said. Through the early warning system, registered parties provide the police department with a sober contact person. In the event of a noise complaint, the police department contacts that person rather than responding first-hand.
The decrease in drug violations can also be attributed to Massachusetts’s initiative to decriminalize marijuana, Carter said. Under the guidance of the state’s Department of Education, the police department did not count instances of possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.
However, the occurrence of crime in other categories increased. The number of burglaries, for instance, increased from three incidents in the previous year to five. According to Carter, the college community can take steps to ensure that the campus is a safe environment.
“The police department and our campus partners focus in a broader way on the creation of community, civility, awareness and education,” Carter said, adding that student involvement in crime prevention remains crucial.
“As always the timely reporting of suspicious people and/or criminal activity greatly contributes to the safety of the community, the resolution of investigation and the accountability of people,” he said.