Crime Rate Drops Due to Changes

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Two wheels on the floor, a patch on his right arm and the devotion to those around him, like many others, Sergeant Jimmie Vickers has kept Tyler Junior Colleges’ crime at a low percentage.

“The key is stay visible, keep a presence among students, faculty, staff and visitors,” Vickers said.

The dip on crime at college grounds has not been a coincidence or a matter of luck. Many factors have played a major role in preventing campus violence. Crime rate overall has decreased 40 percent according the newly released Campus Crime Statistics of 2011. Vickers, currently the bike patroller and cadet supervisor, has served for the safety of TJC for 17 years and over the past couple of semesters has seen and helps with the safety transformation.

Since 2010, the transition from campus security to campus policing has taken place. In the past years the majority of supervision was by security guards who, because of their status, had a limited power in policing the college. Now more than 14 police officers have replaced those positions, giving full power to report and take immediate action against any offenses. The objective now is cutting down to the core of the problem by community policing. Community policing occurs when any one individual that is for campus peace and safety must take action against crime.

“It’s a combined effort. It’s not just the police. it’s many people on campus, it’s employs, it’s students,” TJC Chief Randy Melton, said. “Having that relationship with our campus is good, it’s a healthy relationship.”

Changes in landscaping, outdoor lighting and the lanyard policy also take part in safekeeping, the 2011 stats show. Crimes like vehicle theft went from three in 2010 to one in 2011, burglary from 11 in 2010 to four in 2011, and aggravated assault from two to zero in 2010.

“Crime is going in the right direction which is lower,” said Dr. Tom Johnson, Executive Director of campus safety and law enforcement.

“I feel safer now,” Maria Betancourt, sophomore majoring in Respiratory Care, said. “I want to be able to walk to my car and know that I’m safe, and that’s why I really like these lanyards.”

Sexual offenses could be said to have lower 100 percent, even though the stats show one was committed compared two on 2010 stats. The reported one case in 2011 has been clarified by the alleged victim to have been no more than sexual sex. Before case was present to the Grand Jury and suspect had been behind jail bars for months, the student revealed the truth. Although recent cases of sexual assaults in campus have been unfounded, the dangers are still present, that is why police officials are taking every step possible to prevent any sexual offenses.

Betancourt also said because of these guidelines certain hangout areas, like in front of the Student Rogers Center known as the “gauntlet” by the older student generations, had changed for the best.  In the past, student felt intimidate to walk through a big crowed gatherings.

“Oh my God it was horrible, like a big meeting, a lot of people and not all of them were students, and it wasn’t a good feeling because you didn’t know what they were doing,” Betancourt, said. “I tried to avoid it as much as I could.”

But now with changes like fencing potential sitting spots, it has made it difficult to sit and have get togethers.

The stats also show the liquor law violations to be on the average of three offenses per year from 2008 to 2011, a remarkable low numbers compared to other four year universities. There is one concern, the current passing bond in which smith county would be allowed to sell alcohol in side city limits, would impact the campus. Because TJC is located in the heart of the city, some fear the passing of this bill may increase the liquor offenses.

“If they make it more accessible it will increase the availability of it,” Sergeant Vickers, said. “If it’s around the corner, that person who supplies it to them, they (underage students) don’t have to go very far.”

These are only speculations, but the subject is real. Already students, who are under the legal age of drinking alcohol beverages, have access through other individuals. This offense is a class A misdemeanor, to many it may mean just one more check mark on their naughty list but for those with a educational plan in mind it will affect future career opportunities.

As Sergeant Vickers continuous to actively secure campus from corner to corner, either by bike, on foot, golf cart or patrol vehicle, like other officers, his goal remains clear.

“I want to see the students enjoy their campus life. I want to see them succeed,” Vickers, said. “That is also providing a save campus. I love the idea that I can keep my students safe.”

Written by Belen Casillas

Editor-in-Chief Fall 2012

Photo by: Carol Scott

Student Life Editor Fall 2012

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