Penn’s Division of Public Safety released its 2022 Annual Security & Fire Safety Report, which includes campus crime statistics from 2019 through 2021.
Information in the report is disseminated in compliance with federal law under the Clery Act and several other regulations, and contains details of all campus safety resources, methods to report a crime, and public safety policies of the University. Vice President of Public Safety Kathleen Shields Anderson told The Daily Pennsylvanian that the annual report is a resource meant to support the community in making informed decisions about their safety.
The geographical purview of the campus crime reports under the Clery Act include any University property or public property under Penn’s oversight.
Shields Anderson explained that notable additions to the crime statistics include dating and domestic violence and stalking, which DPS has been following more closely following a 2013 Violence Against Women Act amendment.
They report also includes a statistic for hate crimes, another crime that she feels is underreported on campus. Shields Anderson noted that DPS is aware that the number of hate crimes reported is not a reflection of how often those incidents occur within the community.
“As we become more aware of these incidents classified as hate crimes … I am encouraged when I see these numbers increasing, because [it shows] people feel more empowered to report,” Shields Anderson said.
According to the report, rape cases increased from two in 2019 to 10 in 2021, while other forms of sexual misconduct remained at similar levels.
“We know in general that sexual assault and child abuse are the two most underreported crimes, because they are so complex and personal,” Shields Anderson said. “[So] when we see an increase in rape reports — we are frankly pleased about that — it means that more people are coming forward.”
Nationally, 63% of sexual assault cases go unreported to police, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, and more than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault.
In 2022, the number of aggravated assaults increased from 17 in 2020 to 32. Many of these cases happened in the several hospitals surrounding campus, Shields Anderson said, reflecting a national trend of attacks on health care workers.
DPS also saw motor vehicle thefts triple since 2019, which Shields Anderson said she believes is a result of food delivery services becoming more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. Police commonly found that when delivery drivers left their car unattended when picking up food, car thieves would seize the opportunity to drive away in the vehicle, Shields Anderson added.
Burglary and disciplinary referrals for liquor law violations saw a decrease in 2020, which Shields Anderson said she believes is a consequence of the pandemic leaving campus depopulated.
Penn’s properties experienced very few fires the last three years, with the only fire in 2021 occurring in the off-campus fraternity Tau Epsilon Phi. According to Shields Anderson, DPS has committed to providing sprinkler systems to all student residences and numerous other campus buildings, a movement which began 20 years ago following the fire at a Seton Hall University first-year dorm, which killed three students.
“[The low number of fires] speaks to the commitment our team has to training both staff and students on the importance of fire safety,” Shields Anderson said.