The National Council for Home Safety and Security (NCHSS) has named Newark the second safest city in Delaware.
Their findings were based off of the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR), a database that compiles crime statistics from police reports across the country. It was created as a way to show trends and patterns of crime on local, state and national levels.
In addition to cities with populations lower than 5,000 residents, cities that did not submit to the FBI were not accounted for in the NCHSS results.
The UCR has two different categories: violent crimes and property crimes. As specified on the FBI’s website, violent crimes are murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson fall under the category of property crimes.
Within the categories of violent and property crimes, the crimes are divided into Part I and Part II offenses. When collecting data for Part I offenses, the FBI asks that police departments share “the age, sex and race of persons arrested for each of the offenses.” These crimes are crimes like forcible rape, aggravated assault and arson.
Examples of Part II offenses are simple assaults, vandalism, forgery and indecent exposure. Police departments are only asked to provide “arrest data” for these particular crimes.
The most recent Five-Year Trend chart released by the FBI, which was from 2006 to 2010, showed a nationwide drop in both violent and property crimes.
From 2013 to 2015, the most recent year provided in the Newark police department profile, there were 205 fewer Part I offenses and 608 fewer Part II offenses in the city.
There has been a 26 percent decrease in Part I crimes, as also explained in the profile.
33,392 residents live in Newark, compared to 6,158 residents in Elsmere, which was named the safest city in Delaware.
Wilmington, which is Delaware’s mostly densely populated city, reported a population of 72,078 to the UCR in 2015. In 2014, it was coined “Murder Town USA” because of its high violent crime per capita crime rate. Wilmington had 1,625 violent crimes per 100,000 people, while the national average was 368 per 100,000 people.
In comparison to Newark and Elsmere, Wilmington — which is roughly 15 miles from the university’s main campus — reported 1,231 violent crimes and 3,203 property crimes to the UCR.
The NCHSS named Wilmington the 10th safest city in Delaware for 2017.
Crime statistics from the university’s Newark campus show a decrease of specifically on-campus burglaries. There were seven reported incidents in 2015, as opposed to 22 in 2013 and 27 in 2014.
The university’s chief of police, Patrick Ogden, said that this had a lot to do with cooperation from students.
“Most students when they walk around campus feel very safe and it is a safe campus, but with that you can become lax and you don’t lock your door or you leave your phone out on a table,” Ogden said.
Through providing safety tips via emails and UD Alerts, the goal is that more students will become aware of what crimes could potentially happen on campus and will then work to prevent those things from happening.
UDPD’s crime statistics are also publicly available online, with the opportunity to view daily crime reports from any day in 2011 to current day. Full calendar year crime reports from 2013 to 2015 can also be found on the UDPD website.
“We don’t want to scare people, but we want to inform them,” Ogden said.
There has been a jump up in reported rape, fondling, aggravated assault and stalking numbers on campus. In 2013, there were three reported on-campus rapes but in 2015 there were 12.
Ogden said that this was most likely because of an “increase in reporting” rather than a rise in crime.
“The university knows that is an important topic and we’ve done a lot to educate the community about the resources that are available,” he said.
To keep the university and surrounding area aware of crime in the area, the university police created UD Alerts. These can be received via email and text message, and contain any information the campus or local police find relevant to share at that time.
“Before when someone saw something suspicious, they would have to pick up the phone and describe what was happening to the dispatcher,” Ogden said. “Through the LiveSafe app, they can actually take a picture of what they’re seeing.”
One of the resources that Ogden referred to as “underutilized” is the free escort service. During the hours that the UD Late Bus is in service, students can call to arrange for an escort, usually a trained student, to walk with them to their destination.
Blue light emergency phones are also available for use across campus, which can be used to be put into immediate contact with the police department. There are more than 200 available for both student and residential use.
The phones are available, but that does not mean they are used. Since most students carry cell phones, the need for access to an on-campus landline is decreasing.
The Dover City Council used a similar argument when they voted to remove emergency phones from city parks in October 2016. According to Dover officials, there was no evidence showing that the phones had been used for an emergency in the decade since they were installed.
It was also said that most of the time, calls from emergency phones were usually the result of malfunctions or pedestrians who would press the button out of curiosity.
“You can’t put a police officer on every corner and you can’t give everyone a personal escort 24 hours a day,” Ogden said. “But we feel like if we arm [students] with the information to make informed decisions about their own personal safety the entire campus will be safer.”