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ISUPD addresses sexual assault reporting and timely warnings

Jacob Rice
Iowa State University Police vehicle parked outside of Troxel Hall. Sept. 25, 2023.

The Iowa State University Police Department discussed trends for timely warnings for Clery Act crimes and the crime statistic trends over recent years during the November Board of Regents meeting. 

ISUPD Chief Michael Newton gave the department’s annual report at the meeting and broke down statistics and trends the department noticed in 2022 from Clery Act reportable crimes. Clery Act reportable crimes include crimes such as sexual assault, theft, vandalism, robbery, weapons violations and more. 

According to the Clery reportable crimes report, ISUPD received 18 reports of rape in 2022, four less than 2021. The department received 10 reports of rape in 2020. 

The department received six reports of fondling, one less than 2021 and two more than 2020, according to the document. 

Sexual assault is typically an underreported crime, according to the department. In the past few years, however, ISUPD has seen an increase in the number of people coming forward sooner. Newton said he believes the increase started due to the #MeToo movement. 

“We have had more timely warnings, and that’s because people are feeling more comfortable and coming forward earlier, which is very much a pro for us because we can get them the resources we can get them to help,” Newton said.

ISUPD has also seen an increase in the number of people who have wanted the department to continue with a criminal investigation. ISUPD only continues with a criminal investigation when the victim decides they want to press charges. It is up to the victim to decide the next steps. 

The department received no reports of statutory rape in 2022. 

Other offenses

Aside from speaking on sexual assault statistics, Newton also reviewed other trends they saw in 2022.

“Our liquor law cases, or underage drinking, are definitely up,” Newton said. “That’s the one category I would say that we had an increase, and that can be attributed to a number of factors: the number of home football games we have, the weather and the number of other special events and items. It’s not an alarming trend; we see that it ebbs and flows over the years.”

In 2021 there were 119 liquor law violations, and in 2022 the department handled 258 violations.

Motor vehicle thefts were down for 2022, the report showed. In 2020, there were seven cases, in 2021 there were 11 and in 2022 there were three. Recently, the department has emphasized the importance of locking cars when leaving them for extended periods of time. Newton said he expects motor vehicle thefts to rise in unison with the prominence of e-bikes and e-scooters, which are considered motor vehicles under the Clery Act. 

Newton predicted that weapon cases would be up for 2022 in last year’s meeting due to the dramatic increase in people coming out of the metro area with guns and drugs and into the community. 

Michael Newton, Iowa State University police chief (Alec Giljohann/Iowa State Daily)

“Ames Police Department and ISUPD spent a concentrated effort and did a number of traffic stops,” Newton said. “We were able to get a number of guns and drugs off the street. We changed the trend, and those folks [are] no longer coming into our community and causing the issues that they were causing for us.”

The report Newton presented to the board stated the department handled six weapons law violations in 2022, four more than it handled in 2020 and 2021.

One downside of the Clery Act is that statistics come out a year late, making it hard for students to understand what is happening on campus day-to-day. The department has combated this issue by putting out a monthly statistics report that is public on the ISUPD Facebook, Twitter and website. In October, the department took a step further and published a daily dashboard on its website that’s updated daily. 

Aside from touching on the trends, Newton said the department is getting closer to being fully staffed than years past, with the department’s most recently academy-trained officer finishing training in October. 

In 2022, the department did 331 outreach events and reached over 43,000 community members with those events. They also had over 660 hours of engagement with the community. 

“I’m excited to say that next year I’ll have even better numbers to share with the board,” Newton said. 

ISUPD is also leveraging technology on campus. The aging blue light infrastructure (emergency phones located throughout campus), which would have cost millions to replace has now been replaced with the Iowa State Safe app. The Iowa State Daily published an article breaking down exactly what the app can be used for. The app has a mobile blue light function that students can take advantage of wherever they are on campus. 

“Iowa State is a great institution,” Newton said. “I love that institution safety and security is an important responsibility. It’s a shared responsibility on our campus. I appreciate all the support from our senior leaders on campus. We couldn’t do it without their support.”

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