UW-Milwaukee’s Annual Security Report shows increases in burglary, liquor law and drug law arrests over the past three years both on and off campus.
The Clery Report gives crime numbers for on campus, UWM buildings off the main campus, and the dorms.
UWM Police Department Capt. Gregory Habeck said the increased numbers are due to many different factors.
UWM PD took a more literal interpretation of the state’s statute defining burglaries. Theft is simply removing property, whereas burglary is entering a room or building illegally with the intent to take property or actually taking property. Burglary is a felony and has more severe consequences than theft.
“We charge people with burglary now, as a deterrent, whereas in the past maybe they had been charged with theft,” Habeck said. “That’s just a philosophical decision for us to try and make it a deterrent for these types of crimes.”
Habeck said a secondary factor is an increase of reports of things missing from unlocked or closed rooms, also classified as burglaries.
“We’re encouraging students and staff and faculty on campus when they’re not in their spaces to keep their doors locked,” he said.
Considering the size of the campus and the large number of people on it every day, Habeck said the numbers are low.
“But it’s too many for us,” he said. “We still want to reduce that.”
The increase in liquor law and drug law arrests are also due to multiple factors, said Habeck. In the past, more warnings were issued, but this strategy was deemed ineffective by UWM PD. Giving a citation is considered an arrest. By giving a citation, students are enrolled in an educational program called Alcohol and your College Experience. This allows students to take classes about alcohol, and by doing so get rid of their tickets.
“I think the success of the program has been demonstrated in the amount of people that come through versus the amount of people you see a second or a third time,” Habeck said about the ACE program. “They’re out there, but it’s not as frequent as you think. That’s part of the philosophy of issuing citations.”
The Clery Report’s numbers include all the citations, regardless of whether a student opted to participate in the ACE program.
Habeck said another reason for the rise in alcohol and drug law arrests is the growth of UWM, including the new dorms on North Avenue and the Northwest Quadrant.
“That naturally expands our patrol areas, and with the expansion of the university, there’s been an expansion of the police department,” Habeck said.
“So if you add the additional territory, and you add the additional officers patrolling, you naturally increase the opportunities for officers to encounter persons that are violating the drug and liquor codes.”
Habeck said personally he doesn’t see a real increase in alcohol and drug problems on campus.
“I’d have to say I think things are pretty level,” he said.