Lows & Order: Drop in annual crime stats

Campus Safety had a busy year in 2014.

According to the recently released annual Jeanne Clery crime report, which reflects all crime reported on campus from the previous year, there was dramatic spike in drug law violations.

Yet, campus safety supervisor Ben Macias and lead officer Todd Dickson are not worried by the numbers— they see it as good news in fact.

“The number increase that we see I don’t believe is attributed to an increased usage issue,” Dickson said.

“It is more of a proactive approach that our department has been taking on to get that issue under control.”

The statistics, released on Oct. 1 show 26 drug related arrests and 43 drug related violations in 2014. However, the numbers have already begun to drop to only 19-reported drug offenses since Jan. 1 of this year.

To stay in compliance with Title IV federal requirements and continue to receive federal funding, such as student financial aide, Citrus must follow federal marijuana laws and regulations.

Dickson considers the decrease in this year’s numbers to be a result of this new policy brought forth by student services administration.

An educational “No marijuana on Campus” campaign came about in spring 2015 during the rise of medical marijuana recommendation cardholders appearing too frequently on campus.

Macias said that a big part of the educational campaign was getting the word out that if there was marijuana violation on campus, students could be suspended for the rest of the semester.

After researching other schools in the area, Martha McDonald, Ed.D., vice president of student services, initiated the stronger suspension policy when she was the interim dean of students.

“I just felt that students were not taking the ‘no drugs or marijuana on campus’ policy seriously, so we had no choice to implement and exercise our disciplinary procedure in terms of suspensions,” she said, referring to administrative procedure 5520 on student disciplinary action.

The 2011 statistics, prior to the campaign, reported drug related offenses at a low of one arrest and 12 violations.

These numbers steadily rose to four arrests and 21 violations in 2012 and eight arrests and 24 violations in 2013, which sparked the educational workshops and less tolerance of marijuana offenses.

McDonald said that effects of the stricter suspensions and educational components are reflected in the fall 2015 semester.

Numbers spiked in 2014 as a result of stricter policy, but based off of campus safety crime logs that are updated every two days, it is clear that violations for 2015 are down.

Dickson said campus safety remains proactive and vigilant.

“The numbers for 2015 have gone down and I think will continue to go down,” Macias said. “But the educational focus has to continue.”


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