While the national debate over arming teachers heats up, the University of Kansas — where this year students and faculty can carry concealed weapons on campus — reports that crime there is down.
In a report released late last week, KU Public Safety officials said crime on the Lawrence campus declined 13 percent from 2016 to 2017. In the first six months of permitted concealed guns on campus, there have been no criminal weapons violations.
KU Public Safety attributes the drop in crime to steps the university took to improve campus security after the legalization of concealed carry. Three additional police officers and three security officers were hired.
The crime report does not include an incident in which a loaded .38 revolver found unattended in the bathroom of Wescoe Hall last September. That was a university gun policy violation but not criminal, said Capt. James Anguiano, spokesman for KU Public Safety.
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It also does not include sexual assault reports made only to university administration and not investigated by campus police.
Kansas State University, where concealed guns are also allowed, does not keep similar crime stats, officials there said.
At University of Missouri in Columbia, campus police reports indicate the number of overall crimes was up from 228 in 2016 to 257 in 2017, with the biggest increase being thefts. However, MU saw five fewer rapes, and three fewer violent crimes with no change in the number of aggravated assaults.
As of July 1, The Kansas Personal and Family Protection Act allowed students and faculty to carry concealed handguns into nearly all campus buildings.
Prior to 2017, KU campus police since 2008 recorded a total of 14 weapons violations. There was one violation in 2016. They handled five sexual assaults in 2016 and 2017, with one more rape in 2017 and one less fondling. KU Public Safety handled 671 total criminal offenses in 2017, down from 770 in 2016.
Anguiano said the most reported crime on the campus historically is theft. "That is where we saw our biggest drop," he said. In 2017 there were 156 thefts reported, down from 213 in 2016.
He said KU Public Safety believes that having more officers on campus deterred criminal behavior. "Their main function is community policing," he said.
In a statement about the crime report, KU Chief of Police Chris Keary said, “The added visibility of officers on campus helped people feel safer, but conversations with those officers also helped the community understand their role in safety and crime prevention.”
Also adding to the drop in crime, Keary said, was added crime prevention technology, including 750 cameras throughout campus. The university also is hosting more crime prevention programs during the year for students and faculty.
Anguiano acknowledged that the report reflected only one year. "We know that crime could go up next year," he said.
The campus public safety report, released every spring, is not as broad as the so-called Clery report, which includes all crime reported on or near campus whether it was investigated by campus police, the city's police or in a university investigation.
Clery is a 1990 federal statute, named after Jeanne Clery, who in 1986 was raped and murdered in her dorm room by another student at Lehigh University. Her parents believed the school had failed to share vital information about campus safety with students.
The law requires public and private colleges and universities that get federal funding to maintain and annually disclose campus crime statistics and security information.