By David Arkin: CNJ Correspondent
Eastern New Mexico University ranks in the middle of the pack among the state’s four-year colleges and universities for major crimes, liquor and drug law violations.
Universities and colleges submit reported crimes to the U.S. Department of Education under a campus security and crime law.
The Albuquerque Journal compiled the data from 2001-2002 into rankings over the weekend.
ENMU was ranked third out of nine state schools for major crimes, which consisted of criminal homicide, sexual offense, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft and arson.
From 2001-02, ENMU had 53 reported crimes, which amounted to a 7.1 major crime rate per 1,000 students. The College of Santa Fe was first with 31 crimes, with a rate of 8.6 major crimes per 1,000 students. The College of the Southwest was ninth with zero crimes reported.
Among liquor law violations, ENMU ranked sixth with 17 crimes and a rate of 2.3 crimes per 1,000 students. The College of Santa Fe was again first with 96 crimes with a 26.5 crime rate per 1,000 students.
And among drug law violations, ENMU was fifth with 21 crimes and a rate of 2.8 crimes per 1,000 students. The College of Santa Fe was first with 60 crimes with a rate of 16.6 crimes per 1,000 students.
ENMU President Steve Gamble said on Sunday afternoon the College of Santa Fe is depicted unfairly by the figures.
“It looks like they (College of Santa Fe) are not safe, but it’s just the opposite,” he said. “A university that doesn’t report crimes and just ignores them comes out looking like they’re great on things like this.”
Gamble said ENMU does report crimes that occur on its campus.
“The guidelines are very clear,” he said. “If there has been a crime of some kind on campus we want it reported. We want the person who did it arrested and want it handled through the legal channels. We put an emphasis on reporting crimes that happen. We want to make people aware of the crimes that occur so they can protect themselves against those crimes.”
Gamble receives a report on the number of crimes that occur on campus, so he said he wasn’t surprised by any of the numbers that were reported to the Department of Education.
Among the 53 major crimes reported by ENMU, thefts topped the list, Gamble said.
And the number of alcohol crimes that were reported on ENMU’s campus may not indicate the number of incidents involving alcohol that actually occurs, Gamble said.
“If an individual walks under the influence into a residence hall we probably try to get that individual to bed rather than try to file charges against them,” Gamble said. “So we try to show compassion on that side.”
The University of New Mexico, located in Albuquerque and New Mexico State University, located in Las Cruces, the state’s two largest schools, were among the top of the pack in all categories.
Some of the reason for that can be attributed to the environments that surround those schools.
“UNM is in a big city,” Gamble said. “You have to look at where we are located. It’s difficult to compare the schools.”
Gamble said universities during the last few years have had to improve their on-campus police departments.
“I think any university that has not strengthened its police force isn’t really paying attention to the real world,” he said. “I think all universities have had to take a long hard look at security and address it.”
It wasn’t that many years ago when universities didn’t allow their campus polices to carry weapons. As society has changed, police carrying weapons on campus has changed, Gamble said.
“We just reached a point where we needed policemen on campus to have weapons to do their job right,” Gamble said. “Universities just reflect what goes on in society. We have instances with alcohol and drugs. The students that come here come from that environment.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.