Drug, alcohol use up, DUIs down at UA

By April Lacey
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Between 2000 and 2003, while reports of alcohol violations increased from 230 to 277, reports of DUIs dropped by more than a third, according to police reports. Reports of drug violation increased from 124 to 146, and drug related arrests increased from 118 to 243.

The statistics in the 2003 University of Arizona Police Department's Campus Safety and Security Report vary due to outside influences, police officials say.

Although the report states reported liquor violations and drug arrests have increased in the past four years, UAPD Sgt. Eugene Mejia said the rise in numbers is likely due to an increase in reporting the crimes to UAPD rather than an actual increase in the crimes themselves.

Since Residence Life created its no tolerance policy in 2002 for drugs and alcohol, they have been more consistently cracking down on people who violate campus rules, and more frequently reporting crimes to UAPD.

"Residence Life is a huge contributor in reporting crimes," Mejia said.

Reports say DUIs have declined since 2000 from 67 in 2000 to 40 in 2003.

Mejia said the decrease in recorded DUIs is due to a shortage of trained police officers.

Mejia said UAPD will add more trained officers this year and expects a significant rise in DUIs reported as a result.

The number of sexual assault cases reported to UAPD have increased by one each year since 2000.

Mejia said most sexual assault cases happen when drinking is involved, and when the two people involved know each other.

Mejia says that is why police talk to students at freshman orientation about drinking and avoiding going out with people they don't know very well.

Alcohol use is a major contributor to violent crimes overall, so stopping alcohol is a first step to decreasing these types of crimes, Mejia said.

"Our main concern is preventing violent crimes," Mejia said. "We know that minor violations such as underage drinking contribute to greater crimes. That's why we enforce it. That's the unfortunate thing that young people don't see."

Theater arts senior Mahon Brown said drinking is still going to happen on campus even if police crack down on students.

"I don't think it's necessarily something you can stop from happening. Also, if you push people off campus, it may just cause them to drive drunk," Brown said.

Architecture senior Erin Faubion said she agrees cracking down on DUIs is more important than paying attention to underage drinking.

"Drinking and driving is a lot more dangerous than underage drinking," Faubion said.

Mejia said UAPD tries to educate students about the dangers of drinking before having to resort to strict enforcement.

"We enlist voluntary compliance. When that doesn't work, we use enforcement," Mejia said.

Reported cases of assault jumped from 64 in 2001 to 71 in 2003.

Reported burglaries, theft and criminal damage have stayed relatively stable in the past four years.

Reports of burglary have decreased from 89 in 2000 to 82 in 2003, reports of theft have dropped from 756 to 717 from 2000 to 2003, and reports of criminal damage have increased from 328 to 335

"We need to understand the trends in these violent crimes and do something to reduce or eliminate them," Mejia said.

Anyone can access the UAPD Campus Safety Report on the UAPD Web site at www.uapd.arizona.edu