Cal Poly is one of the safest state universities in California, University Police Chief Bill Watton said a recent crime statistics report shows.
The report, which details arrests made on-and-off campus from 2003 to 2005, shows that most arrests were made for misdemeanor liquor and drug law violations. There were 86, 33, and 53 such arrests made during that time.
Watton, who estimated Cal Poly as one of the five safest schools in the CSU system, said the higher number in 2003 possibly was a result of the raucous Mardi Gras celebrations that year.
Most of Cal Poly’s felony arrests came from burglary and vehicle theft. There were 33, 16 and 23 such arrests made in 2003 to 2005 respectively. Sgt. Carol Montgomery said most of the vehicle theft arrests were made for students stealing golf carts.
Watton said these statistics are about average for Cal Poly, where the vast majority of students are law abiding.
“Ninety-nine point nine percent (of students) know what they’re doing and aren’t a problem and are going to school to get an education,” Watton said.
Felony arrests have decreased 46 percent over the past five years, Watton said. There were four arrests made for rape or sexual battery in 2003 and one in 2005. There were none in 2004.
Aerospace engineering freshman Christina Hernandez, who lives in the Whitney dorms, said she feels safe at Cal Poly. She said she was made aware of the reality of sexual attacks on campus when she saw a red handprint, which marks where a sexual attack occurred, on the sidewalk outside her dorm.
“I just feel like I could have been the one who was attacked. It draws your attention to it and made me think it actually could happen,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez said she went to crime prevention presentations during WOW week and at the beginning of the year.
Watton said San Luis Obispo’s rural community and campus police’s high visibility has helped keep crime low. Cal Poly’s well-lit campus and relatively low on-campus resident population, around 3,000, also contributes to the low crime rate, he said.
“Statistically speaking, you’re probably safer here than where you came from outside of campus,” Watton said.
Watton said 80 percent of arrests are made in student living areas off campus on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Many of those arrested don’t attend Cal Poly, he said.
Montgomery said alcohol is the main culprit in most of the arrests made. She said intoxication often leads to other crimes like vandalism and sexual battery.
“(The crimes) always involve alcohol, because if they were sober, they wouldn’t do that. You would say, ‘I would never do that,’ but if you have alcohol in your system, it impairs your judgment.”
While there were no misdemeanor weapons possession arrests made in 2003-05, two hate crime arrests were made in 2003.
Campus police give crime prevention seminars to Cal Poly’s on-campus housing areas and fraternities and sororities. Campus police also offer these seminars, which discuss personal safety and health and sexual assault, to all campus organizations.
Watton said his department plans to increase the number of blue phones on campus so that one will be visible anywhere on campus.