Miami University students may notice less campus crime alerts flooding their e-mail inboxes this year.
In July, revisions were made to campus safety and security reporting requirements.
The FBI has reclassified the definition of a burglary. Now, many incidents that would have previously been considered burglary are classified as larceny, according to Miami University Police Department (MUPD) Chief John McCandless.
According to the Handbook for Campus Crime Reporting, written by the U.S. Department of Education, if the intent of a forced or unlawful entry is not to commit a felony or theft, or if the intent cannot be determined, then the occurrence is classified as larceny, not burglary.
“I think it’s a more realistic clarification,” said Claire Wagner, Miami University Associate Director of University Communications.
Miami must report burglaries in compliance with the Clery Act, which doesn’t require larceny to be reported. This change may impact students’ perceptions of crime at Miami by reducing the number of alerts they receive.
“Safety is number one,” Wagner said. “It just absolutely is. We already go above and beyond (the Clery Act) by reporting the off-campus instances.”
The Ohio Revised Code still requires that larceny events be classified as burglaries and included in university crime statistics.
“We will still carry a crime stat saying that a burglary occurred.” McCandless said. “We just won’t launch a crime alert.”
All university crime statistics and crime alert archives are available on the MUPD website. McCandless said in instances of larceny, the statistics will show that a burglary occurred. However, the crime alert archives will not reflect the larceny act because a crime alert will not be sent out.
Of the 10 campus crime alerts sent out last year, seven were associated with on-campus burglaries, according to the archives. Senior Kelly Heinichen said she felt if the overall number of alerts could be reduced, it is a real possibility that those that are sent out might have more weight
“I feel like since we get so many, some people overlook them,” Heinichen said.
McCandless said students may become more aware of crimes on campus with less notifications.
“Maybe if we put out less, people won’t become desensitized to seeing them over and over and over again,” McCandless said. “That’s kind of our hope. If we could get to a point where our community knew that when they get these crime alerts they really should take a look at them.”
MUPD still encourages students to communicate to their office and report any incidents they feel uncomfortable about. If students notice a suspicious trend or potentially threatening situation, McCandless said he still hopes to see these issues reported to MUPD.
“We judge each incident on the potential for a threat to safety,” Wagner said.
The university also sends out information bulletins if there is perceived threat to students’ safety, according to Wagner.
“I would hope that the students will pay more attention because it will be a more rare occurrence,” Wagner said.