The Public Safety Office reported 349 criminal offenses on campus—the lowest number of offenses reported in 10 years. Chris Keary, chief of KU police, suggested the low crime numbers is a result of a lower on-campus population throughout the pandemic.
“Due to COVID, the housing population was significantly less than normal from mid-March 2020 until late August 2020 and after Thanksgiving break 2020,” Keary said in an email to the Kansan.
Among the various criminal offenses, drug-related activity saw the steepest decline from 2019 to 2020, with 108 drug-related offenses in 2019 and 30 in 2020. Keary said most of the drug offenses the Public Safety Office responds to come from student housing, thus the lower housing population played a role in drug offenses decreasing.
The overall decrease in crime on campus has made some students and faculty more comfortable when on campus.
“I felt more safe on campus because I noticed more police and campus police out on the streets, which gave me a sense of security,” Tanner Dickson, a sophomore from Castle Rock, Colorado, said.
Dr. Donald Haider-Markel, chair and professor of political science, also said campus safety officials were more visible this semester than in the fall, making some students feel safer. Haider-Markel said he could also imagine others feeling different.
“I’m sure the lack of people on campus is a mixed bag for how safe some folks feel,” Haider-Markel said.
Haider-Markel said some women could feel less safe with fewer people around, while others may feel safer.
“I felt safer on campus, but I also felt that was because I was not going out as much as I would have during a normal semester,” Marni Frischer, a sophomore from St. Louis, said. “I think my friends felt similar as we were not going places that require more awareness.”
While campus crime has decreased, Keary said the work of the Public Safety Office remains the same. And, although crime is at a low, Keary wants the campus community to remain vigilant, as crime can still happen.
“Everyone should continue to do what they can to keep themselves, their friends and the campus as safe as possible,” Keary said in an email. “We continue to ask for the university community to do their part by reporting crimes that happen and by letting us know if they see anything unusual or suspicious.”