Thursday, December 19, 2013

UW-La Crosse: One of the Safest Campuses in Wisconsin, by Shelby Phillips

The University of Wisconsin – La Crosse can add campus safety to its yearly achievements.  Campus police Chief Scott Rohde reports that constant patrols and visibility make up for the bulk of UW-L’s low crime rates. 

This phenomenon is in stark contrast to the amount of crime on the city streets.  According to Chief Rohde, UW-L’s campus police have a habit of always showing a presence around campus, to reduce the opportunity for individuals to commit crimes.  Students are not only benefitting from the campus police’s vigilance, and the immediate community receives better safety as a byproduct.  “Those who live near campus are glad to live in the area because of patrols, thus lower crime levels.”

Patrol methods used regularly by UW-L’s campus police include patrol by car, golf cart, bicycles and undercover foot patrols.  Police received $16,000 this year in grant funding from the state for these low-profile patrols. “We do un-uniformed officers in the early part of Fall semester; We’ve actually walked into marijuana sales and seen a cocaine transaction.”  The younger officers can usually pass for college students, thus they are used in a manner that is reminiscent of 21 Jump Street

Most of the problems on campus are alcohol related.  “Alcohol-related offenses, the bar graph is really high, for everything else it’s very low.  We think underage citations are about 10% of what’s happening.  Alcohol-related are noise, damage or drug sales. Violent crimes or threats are really low, 10-11 per calendar year.  Nationally, only 50% of crimes are ever reported.”  Low crime numbers are a good indication but by no means a total estimate of criminal activity.  On campus too there is typically low reporting .

Campus police headquarters has recently moved its location from the corner of East Avenue and Farwell Street to its updated location connected to the new parking ramp down the road.