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TBI report shows campus crime rise

Correction appended The rate of criminal offenses at Belmont is growing at a higher rate than its rising population, according to campus crime numbers released by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

The new TBI annual report, required by Tennessee legislation for all colleges and universities in the state, documents the offenses that occurred in the 2011 calendar year. It also compares the 2011 figures with those from reports of the previous two years.

Numbers for Belmont show an increase, even when the increase in students, faculty, and staff if factored in. Federal law requires that the university also submit a report, but the 2012 report has a deadline of Oct. 1, 2012.

Terry White, Belmont’s director of security, addressed the changes in a statement that was available to media.

“While Belmont University’s enrollment has grown extensively over the last several years, we are proud of the minimal impact we have experienced in terms of crime on campus,” White said. Still, campus security is always a top priority at Belmont.”We are deeply committed to our students’ safety and success, and we are assertive in investigating and addressing violations of the University’s substance-free campus policy as well as any other criminal violations.”

The campus population at Belmont, which includes students, faculty, staff and security personnel, has increased from 6,267 to 7,230 since 2009, according to the TBI report. When calculated out, Belmont’s average numbers of violations and comparisons showed:

  1. There were 3.6 on-campus drug violations per 1,000 people, up from 0.5 per 1,000 in a three-year period. There were 24 violations in 2011, up from five offenses in 2010 and only three in 2009. That equals a 620 percent increase since 2009.

  2. Liquor law violations per thousand increased from 6.1 to 7.8 in the same period. According to the TBI report, there were 52 such violations on campus in 2011. While that’s three times the number of offenses in 2010, it’s only a 36 percent increase in the three-year period.

  3. Theft and larceny offense remained about even from 2009 to 2011, only increasing from 8.6 to 8.9 per 1,000 people.

The TBI report documents charges that violate state or federal law, which Belmont also documents. Belmont also reports incidents that violate rules and regulations of student behavior but do not rise to the level of a criminal offense.

For example, Belmont reported no drug arrests in 2008, two in 2009 and two in 2010. But the drug violations reported for campus disciplinary action were three in 2008, three in 2009 and 12 in 2010.

While no campus security reports have been issued yet for 2012, at least two Belmont students have been arrested by local law enforcement this semester on drug charges, one for possession and sale of marijuana and another for possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms. At least two others were arrested last semester for possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia.

Overall, crime numbers at Belmont also increased at a higher rate year-to-year than many campuses across the state, according to the TBI report. However, Belmont’s growth has also increased at a higher rate than most campuses.

Correction An earlier version of this story misstated two significant facts. The story suggested that the Vision had made multiple attempts to contact Director of Security Terry White. The Vision did speak to the front desk personnel, but did not reach out to White directly through email or other avenues. The original story also suggested that White provided an interview with the Tennessean, which was in error. The Tennessean quoted a portion of a statement from Greg Pillon, Belmont’s director of communications. The Vision wrongly relied on the Tennessean report and did not request a statement through Pillon. The full text of the statement has been added to the story above. The Vision is committed to presenting information accurately and clearly to our readers, and in this case we failed to do that. We sincerely regret the errors.

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