By Ying Liang, For The Miami Student
With less students and less alcohol, Oxford’s crime rates decreased dramatically during the summer months.
According to data recorded by the Oxford Police Department (OPD), there were 157 reported criminal incidents involving the OPD from June 1 to Aug. 1 (an average of 78.5 per month). Of these incidents, the highest reported type was theft (28), followed by criminal mischief (20) and shoplifting (13). During the school year, from Jan. 1 to May 31, there was an average of 133 cases a month (41 percent increase from summer months).
Of these incidents, the OPD reported the highest number of cases in underage alcohol violation (128), followed by theft (110) and criminal mischief (77). Underage alcohol violations averaged to 25.6 incidents per month in this time period, with 105 cases (82 percent) involving Miami students, and a total of 112 Miami students arrested. Data from this summer indicated only seven alcohol cases, two of them involving Miami students. Thefts during the school year averaged to 22 per month, and 34 victims (30.9 percent) were Miami students. In comparison, summer data indicated four victims of theft were Miami students. This coincided with summer criminal mischief rates, where four victims were also Miami students and involved vehicle damages.
Sgt. John Varley from the OPD said the department divides Oxford into five districts based on regions. Districts 1, 2 and a part of 3 encompass university property and have many cases of theft, property crimes and alcohol-related incidents. District 4 extends to the area around Walmart, which has a substantial number of drug-related incidents. District 5 is residential, and cases here tend to involve property crimes and burglaries.
According to Varley, common student crimes in the first few districts include theft, marijuana use, underage alcohol violations and assault, with the most incidents occurring from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. in the morning. Seasons also play a role, as less crimes are reported when the weather is bad.
Due to the underage drinking problems that occur on campus, both the MUPD and OPD have adopted a “Good Samaritan” policy for the safety of Miami students, having launched the pilot program late last fall.
“When someone drinks too much, it’s dangerous,” Varley said. “[We] don’t want people to be afraid to get help … Barring no other problems, if someone else calls, and [alcohol is] the only problem, we’ll walk away from it. We don’t follow up in the hospital … or go after the person who called … [the incident is] logged in as a medical run.”
Varley said that once called, the police will arrive, and any repercussions that may occur because of other illegal activity or school policies may not be applicable. This policy was enacted to address the underage drinking problem at Miami.
Students charged with underage alcohol violations make a substantial portion of Wayne Staton’s clientele, according to Timothy J. Meloy. Meloy works as an associate attorney at Wayne Staton Co., one of the three law firms in Oxford. He has practiced law for five years under areas including criminal defense and civil litigation.
“Eighty percent of [our] cases deal with Miami students,” Meloy said. “Most cases deal with underage drinking … there are some marijuana cases … some assault cases.”
Pertaining to underage alcohol violations, Meloy said students often underestimate repercussions from the university.
“University [repercussions are] sometime more severe than legal repercussions,” he said. “Students don’t realize…. Often it seems that the students are under peer pressure.”
To illustrate this difference, he cited Ohio’s underage drinking policy. Underage drinking is a first-degree misdemeanor, just under felony. Students can be charged up to a $1,000 fine for holding a drink while underage. Meanwhile, Miami policy states that students must take a mandatory semester off after two charges of underage alcohol violations are brought against them.
Meloy said he has seen a rise in the number of underage alcohol and marijuana charges over the years.
“The summer is quiet though … students don’t come in often,” Meloy said.
Varley recommended some safety measures to prevent against campus crime, especially alcohol-related incidents.
“If a friend is gone or missing, look for them … especially women,” he said. “Usually when sexual assault occurs, a female has been separated from friends … Lots of people leave [wallets] unattended in bars, and then they’re gone.”
Varley said that the majority of criminal cases uptown involve alcohol, and many of them are preventable.
“If something doesn’t feel right, leave and find safety,” he said. “Watch out for each other; pay attention to where you are … we’re just doing our job. We’re here to protect you.”