Ames weather affects crime rates


File photo: Iowa State Daily

We are taught at a young age the numbers to dial in an emergency. However, crime is often underreported leaving skewed statistics in Clery Act reports and making it more difficult for local police to do their jobs in protecting the community

Jared Raney

After a cold start to spring, and with weather still on the fritz, one group on campus may be the only one thankful.

“Changes can happen when the weather heats up for extended periods of time,” said Cmdr. Geoff Huff with the Ames police.

The common conception that crime increases with the temperature has at least some truth to it, especially on a college campus.

“When the weather is warmer, during spring or fall, we get larger parties. The more people you have hanging around outside, the more potential for crime,” Huff said.

Huff said there have been times when the police department has added officers due to nice weather. 

“I think there are a couple different things that we see when it gets warmer; people are obviously outside a little more, so we have a little bit more contact with people,” said Anthony Greiter, community outreach officer for ISU police.

The adverse effect is also true, if not more so.

“When it’s raining or cold, activity is a little less in general,” Huff said. “Criminals are generally lazy. If it’s freezing, they won’t go outside.”

Huff also said police have noticed more thefts in foggy weather.

“Something to take into account is the amount of light,” Huff said.

“When it’s warmer, people are more willing to be outside. I think it’s possible that during the winter, people are more apt to stay at home,” Greiter said.

Different times of year can bring different challenges as well, regardless of weather or temperature.

“The campus population drops fairly dramatically when fall and spring semesters are not in session,” Greiter said. “During the warmer times we don’t have a ton of students here.”

However, Ames police believe this trend may be changing toward the possibility of more activity outside the academic year.

“Obviously there’s more activity as people finish finals,” Huff said. “We’ve been seeing a lot of people sticking around more than they used to all year around.”

Even within the school year police see many changes to the activity level of students. All year they deal with different challenges.

“In the fall, football brings a different aspect to it, so I kind of take seasons a little differently, you know, we have different events that take place during different seasons,” Greiter said. “We have football in the fall and Veishea in the spring, that both attract large amounts of people to campus.”

This year, Veishea brought an interesting twist. As the temperature stayed below 50 degrees consistently over the weekend, police saw a surprising showing in Campustown.

“We were kind of surprised, because the weather wasn’t great, that there were quite a few people hanging around [at Veishea],” Huff said.

Even so, the weekend was fairly calm, despite the hundreds of people thronging Welch Avenue and Lincoln Way.

“During Veishea, if it’s a colder year people are more willing to stay in apartments or houses to celebrate however they will,” Greiter said. “It got a little chilly at night and we had a little bit of rain here and there, and I think that kept people a little bit calmer.”