MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The annual campus safety report, or the Clery Report for the WVU Morgantown campus, has been released and reflects influence of the pandemic on public safety. Interim University Police Chief Phil Scott said the changes don’t reflect an ongoing negative trend, but demonstrates the lack of the campus population – an important part of the crime reporting system.
The Campus Security Act was passed in 1990 and in 1998 was renamed the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. The report is intended to help administrators, law enforcement officials, parents and students understand crime trend and potential threats on college campuses.
“Making sure that all people- the media, our students , our parents and so on are brought up to speed on what happened and this is the 2020 report,” Scott said.
The report documented decreases in sex crimes, robbery, domestic violence, alcohol and drug violations. Total burglaries in the report jumped from 18 in 2019 to 26 in 2020.
The lack of students on campus not only dampened municipal revenues and the local economy, but it also appeared to drive some of the statistics.
“It hurt us in crime of opportunity, where there weren’t so people around that could report something when they see something,” Scott,” We had some of those crimes of opportunity that did increase.”
The most serious crime on the report was the February 2020 murder of WVU student Eric Smith by two Fairmont men at the College Park Apartments. Arrests were made quickly and first degree murder convictions were reached in about 18 months.
“I will credit our officers and Morgantown P. D. who worked hand-in-hand and solved that case quickly,” Scott said,” Made arrests and subsequently convictions on both of those folks were involved in that.”
Students have a public safety app to access alerts or communicate with campus police. Police rely on information from the student body or public and heavily use a campus network of cameras that is expending.
“The camera system in our buildings and parking lots- we’re increasing those almost on a daily basis,” Scott said,” I can tell you that we have over 1,000 cameras on campus right now and that number is going up everyday.
According to Scott, public safety is an ongoing team effort with the campus and Morgantown community. With the return of students the hope is property crime will decrease.
“We get a lot of tips from the community to help us with those, so I don’t think we should let down our guard,” Scott said,” But, I believe Morgantown as a whole and the university campus are relatively safe.”