Crime and safety on the USF campus was called into question this week after reports by local media outlets such as Bay News 9 said the University “ranked” 16th in violent crimes among more than 500 other colleges and universities across the nation.
However, the FBI only creates reports based on numbers and types of crimes that are reported by various agencies; it does not create rankings on what campuses are the most violent.
“The FBI does not rank universities and colleges,” said Carol Michalik, public affairs specialist with the Tampa FBI field division. “We just publish the statistics we receive from police departments and caution should be exercised when making comparisons.”
Sgt. Mike Klingebiel, University Police’s public information officer, said he was not made aware of the source of the rankings when interviewed for the Bay News 9 report.
“When I questioned them and asked if the FBI created the ranking, they couldn’t tell me,” he said. “They could tell me the source of the numbers, and I agree with that, those numbers are accurate for the year 2005, but I wasn’t sure where the report that ranks us came from.”
The raw numbers, which report that USF had a total of 19 violent crimes on campus last year, came from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program report titled, “Offenses Known to Law Enforcement by State by University and College, 2005.” Robbery, forcible rape and aggravated assault are among the crimes that are counted in the total number of violent crimes. The report was released this month.
The report cautions that other factors need to be considered when analyzing crime at schools, such as “demographic characteristics of the surrounding community, ratio of male to female students, number of on-campus residents, accessibility of outside visitors, size of enrollment.” This is the case with USF, Klingebiel said.
“You cannot just look at numbers,” he said. “These numbers portray a stranger-on-student or affiliate crime, and that is not what happened with these numbers. These are victim and perpetrator known to each other crimes, acquaintance crimes.”
Some students do not seem alarmed by the recent report, as they realize that statistics do not always tell the full story.
“It’s interesting, but you have to take statistics for what they are,” said Andrew Quecan, a junior majoring in electrical engineering. “We’re in a large urban environment … We’re the sixth, seventh largest university in the nation. That might have an affect, so crime will go up with the greater increase in students.”
Danielle Saari, a sophomore majoring in education, said she feels safe because of the patrolling efforts on campus.
“I usually do (feel safe) because there’s always the golf cart people (Safe Team) driving around and then there’s those poles with the emergency buttons, the call boxes,” she said. “The only thing I’ve heard of was breaking into cars. The one thing I did hear of was last year was when the guy got murdered in the parking lot.”
Klingebiel said that concerns among the community should heighten if crime begins to involve victims and perpetrators who are not affiliated with USF.
“The community should be concerned if an increase in stranger on university affiliate crime increases,” he said. “We’ve not experienced that in the past and we do not expect that would be a future trend.”
Asst. News Editor Joshua Neiderer contributed to this report.