UCF, FSU college towns not immune to crime
What happens when you squeeze tens of thousands of hormonal, stressed-out 20-somethings into a roughly 100-square-mile area? Crime.
With about 20,000 fewer students than UCF's second-in-the-nation population, FSU has a little more wiggle room in its state capitol college town. However, the Noles still fall victim to many of the same crimes the Knights read about in headlines on a weekly basis. Both school's Unified Crime Reports for 2014 include cases of forcible rape, robbery and larceny, but with one distinction — FSU's shows fewer of them.
In fact, FSU saw fewer violent, property and domestic violence offenses, with 15 violent offenses, 359 property offenses and one domestic violence offense, respectively. UCF experienced 29 violent offenses, 385 property offenses and four domestic violence offenses. The FSU Police Department also made more arrests in 2014, with 834 compared with UCF's 550. On the flip side, FSU reported 43 simple assaults, while UCF only reported 31.
The UCF Police Department was also able to recover $103,739 of $202,090 in stolen property, while FSU returned $25,047 of $248,978. However, the Tallahassee university made 19 stolen vehicle recoveries — six more than UCF PD.
And while the scale teeters with every new statistic, these numbers, if anything, illustrate that no college town is a stranger to crime.
And while campus law enforcement is familiar with other Florida school crime stats, UCF PD Chief Richard Beary says every environment is totally unique.
"What's affecting their crime in Tallahassee is not affecting our students here at UCF," he said. "What's affecting our students at UCF is the area around us. I don't see a good comparison between our campus and Florida State."
However, a shooting inside FSU's Strozier library, which left 3 students injured and the gunman dead, put UCF on high alert back in November. Following the incident, UCF PD ramped up campus patrol efforts, monitoring the John C. Hitt Library and other high-traffic areas.
FSU Police Department Major Jim Russell said although larceny remained the university's biggest crime from 2013 to 2014, increasing the number of security cameras on campus has helped lower that number from 349 to 290.
"Those act as a deterrent in that people know that they're out there and it's more likely that they're going to get caught," he said. "The solvibiliy of crimes has increased because we can go back to an area and see if there was a camera, see if it captured what was going on and maybe help us get a suspect."
With more than 270 cameras on campus, FSU has also increased residential hall security over the years.
"Years ago, when I first started here it was key access. Well now almost every building on campus is card access," Russell explained. "So we know who's going in and out, and when, do they belong there or not. If you don't have a card to a building, you're not getting in."
Many of UCF's own residence halls also operate through card access. Some doors, however, still take electronic keys and regular keys.
The University of Florida was not able to provide a UCR with 2014 numbers, and the University of South Florida did not respond to emails. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement was not able to provide the Future with 2014 UCR numbers for UF and USF by time of publication.
Caroline Glenn is the News Editor at the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @byCarolineGlennor email her at CarolineG@CentralFloridaFuture.com.
Alex Wexelman is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.