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Reported crimes on Denton college campuses rose in 2016

Reported rapes and drug arrests soared at the University of North Texas from 2015 to 2016, according to newly released campus data. 

The jumps aren't necessarily because of an increase in crimes on campus but because of increased policing and educational opportunities about reporting, campus officials said. 

"We have a great relationship with our campus community, and we've created a culture where reporting is a natural act for us; whereas when I started 24 years ago, there wasn't always that relationship with police where it was OK to report certain things," UNT police Chief Ed Reynolds said. "Because of that, we’ve seen some increase in certain crimes. I don't think crimes have overall increased, but they're more reported."

There were 13 rapes and one statutory rape reported on UNT's campus in 2016 and another eight sexual offenses (fondling). In 2015, there were seven rapes and three statutory rapes reported, as well as six other sexual offenses reported.  

Colleges and universities are required by the Clery Act, which the U.S. Congress passed in 1990, to report crimes on or near campus by Oct. 1 each year. 

Reporting at Texas Woman's University also increased, with more reports of aggravated assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking occurring on campus than 2015. Of these types of incidents, 22 were reported in 2016, compared to 13 in 2015. Samuel Garrison, the interim executive director of public safety, said the increase in reports means that more victims are being connected to the services they need.

"When we train and have more awareness in that area with other departments on campus, I expect that number to go up," Garrison said. "We make sure we have someone make a report as the first step to provide service because of the training we have. Domestic violence is something we all need to pay attention to."

The only other type of crime that increased at TWU's campus in 2016 was aggravated assault with five reports, up from two in 2015. Garrison said that's because one aggravated assault incident had three victims in one incident in 2016. 

The drug arrests at UNT jumped from 134 in 2015 to 201 in 2016, a 50 percent increase. Reynolds said this is because his department worked to crack down on drug offenses before they escalated into more serious crimes. 

"We look at areas on campus and around campus where we have issues with alcohol and drugs, and we’ve tried to increase enforcement with that," he said. "The reason being, any violent crimes are associated with the use of alcohol and drugs. We’re trying to keep that down by controlling the offenses that contribute to [violent crime]."

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889.