Special Feature: Campus Safety
More than 19 million students are enrolled in colleges and universities throughout the United States, challenging law enforcement and campus safety officers to respond to crime and keep students safe on campus.
In 2016, there were about 28,400 criminal incidents on college campuses reported to police and security agencies, according to the 2018 Indicators of School Crime and Safety report. This represented a three percent increase in reported crimes compared to 2015.
Yet, the number of on-campus crimes reported in 2016 was far lower than the number reported in 2001. Over this 15-year period, on-campus crimes dropped 32 percent from 2016 (41,600) to 2001 (28,400).
In 2016, the number of reported crimes on campus actually dropped in every category compared to 2001 except in terms of the number of forcible sex offenses and negligent manslaughter offenses. Between 2001 and 2016, the number of reported forcible sex offenses on college campuses increased from 2,200 in 2001 to 8,900 in 2016.
For victims of sexual assault, the devastating effects can last a lifetime. In addition to the immediate trauma, sexual assault victims can suffer from long-term mental health effects that include depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
To police college campuses, a majority of four-year colleges and universities in the United States use sworn police officers to provide law enforcement services, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Among schools that enrolled more than 2,500 students during the 2011–12 school year, about 75 percent were using armed officers, a seven percent increase from the 2004–05 school year.
Most campus law enforcement agencies serving 5,000 or more students had personnel designated to address general crime prevention (91 percent), rape prevention (86 percent), drug education (79 percent), alcohol education (78 percent), stalking (75 percent), victim assistance (72 percent), and intimate partner violence (69 percent).
Nearly all campuses had a mass notification system that used email, text messages, or other methods to alert and instruct students, faculty, and staff in emergency situations. Additionally, programs such as the Bureau of Justice Assistance-funded National Center for Campus Public Safety exist to support campus officials in creating safer and stronger campus communities.
To learn more about crime and safety on campus, visit the following pages for additional resources from the Office of Justice Programs and other federal sources: