Campus crime plummets: The culprit COVID-19

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Sam Rush/NW

Rayna Sherbinow

More students receiving COVID-19 vaccinations marks a start towards normalcy. However, campus is still relatively quiet compared to previous years. Many classes and student organization meetings are still held online, giving students less of a reason to visit campus. This also means less activity at the NMU Police Department. The department reports on-campus crime is down this semester. 

The department received over 3,600 calls last year, Deputy Chief Jeffery Mincheff said. This year’s numbers remain about the same, but the reasons for those calls have changed. The police department responded to more service calls this semester.

“Maybe locked doors, an alarm, something like that,” Mincheff said. “On the crime end of it, I think it has decreased and I really believe the pandemic is playing a part.”

The police department received an increase in calls from student housing this semester, Mincheff said

“I think students stayed more in their rooms,” Mincheff said. “So did we get a few more calls into the residence halls and apartments? Yes, we did. More for assistance on a variety of calls, but not crime-wise.”

So far this month the majority of police calls have been about minors-in-possession. Campus police have also responded to reports of assault and malicious destruction of property. However, the overall crime rate has been low.

The number of pandemic restriction violations is also low. The Dean of Students Office handles all such violations including failure to wear a mask. When students are reported for mask violations, they must meet with a Conduct Administrator, Assistant Dean of Students Kash Dhanapal said. Then several factors including the student’s conduct history and the location and severity of the violation are taken into consideration to determine if the student will meet with a Resident Director or an Assistant Dean.

“If they accept responsibility for the violation at that meeting, have no prior conduct history, it was not a serious mask offense and it is the only charge they have at that time, it is likely the student would receive some amount of conduct probation,” Dhanapal said. “The typical sanction for a low-level first-time violation of this nature, with no conduct history, is 12 weeks of warning probation.”

Violations of the mask requirement and other pandemic restrictions are considered violations of Compliance With Official Requests. There have been 63 such violations so far this semester, Dhanapal said. The majority of these violations are related to COVID-19, although there may be a few outliers. Failure to wear a mask hasn’t been a major problem, Dhanapal said.

“While we have had a number of students who have violated the requirement, by and large, it has only been once and most students have not had multiple violations,” Dhanapal said. “Also when comparing this to the number of students enrolled, it is not a very high percentage. The reason we have been able to stay open and mostly in-person this year is that the majority of students are following COVID-19 guidelines to the best of their ability. Students should be lauded for their continuing efforts in getting us through this tough time and keeping others safe.”

Mincheff also thanks the students for their efforts during the pandemic. Students helped each other and the university as a whole to get through a stressful year.

“I think their participation in following the requirements set by the university has really made a difference,” Mincheff said. “And students did step up. I really believe that.”

Records of the NMU Police Department’s activity can be found in the department’s daily activity log