Pubdate: Tue, 06 Jun 2000
Source: Home News Tribune (NJ)
Copyright: 2000 Home News Tribune
Contact:  35 Kennedy Blvd. East Brunswick, NJ 08816
Author: Sarah Greenblatt


A survey showing Rutgers University in New Brunswick had the second-highest 
number of drug arrests among the nation's largest colleges reflects 
successful law-enforcement efforts more than increased substance abuse, 
campus officials said.

The survey, published by the Chronicle of Higher Education, noted a 
distinct rise in alcohol and drug-related arrests on campuses nationwide 
between 1997 and 1998, the most recent year for which data was studied.

There were 138 drug-related arrests reported at Rutgers' New Brunswick 
campuses, second only to the University of California at Berkeley, where 
280 drug arrests occurred within a slightly smaller student body.

Campus drug arrests between 1997 and 1998 rose 11 percent nationwide, while 
alcohol-related offenses jumped 24 percent, the survey found.

The Chronicle's survey was based on crime reports colleges are required by 
federal law to disclose each year. The latest numbers were skewed by 
changes in reporting guidelines mandated by Congress that are supposed to 
take effect for 1999 numbers, through many colleges began using the 
guidelines for 1998 numbers.

For example, the colleges must start reporting crimes that take place just 
beyond their campuses, as well as in buildings they own off campus.

Rutgers officials said the rise in drug arrests reflects a cooperative 
effort between campus police and authorities in neighboring municipalities.

Rutgers University Police Chief Anthony Murphy released a statement 
yesterday noting that 63 of the 138 drug-related arrests cited in the 
survey occurred in neighborhoods or on major roadways off campus.

University police work in tandem with police departments in New Brunswick, 
East Brunswick, Edison, Highland Park and Piscataway to patrol sections of 
the city as well as stretches of Route 18, River Road and Metlars, Ryders 
and Hoes lanes, Murphy said in the statement.

The drug arrests indicate that the collaborative effort is effective, 
Rutgers Public Safety Director Jay Kohl said.

"It's very proactive," he said, contending that other statistics for other 
college campuses are unlikely to include as many off-campus arrests. "We 
think it's working."

One area substance-abuse expert agreed that statistics appearing in the 
survey can create a false impression of heightened drug activity.

"I would look somewhat cautiously at those numbers," said Nancy Stek, 
assistant director of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug 
Dependence of Middlesex County, a nonprofit education and advocacy 
organization based in East Brunswick. "I don't know that there's a bigger 
problem at Rutgers - or at Berkeley for that matter - than there is any 
other place."

Stek said police departments in some college communities may take a 
"hands-off" approach, opting to let campus officials handle drug or alcohol 

"Rutgers has approached the problem fairly openly and consistently," she said.

She added that, to her knowledge, heroin and Ecstasy, an amphetamine-like 
drug that has become increasingly popular among high-school students, are 
no more likely to appear at Rutgers than anywhere else in the community.

Except for the increase in drug arrests at Rutgers in New Brunswick, the 
university's profile deviated from several national trends for other types 
of crime featured in the survey.

For instance, alcohol-related arrests declined at Rutgers from 374 in 1997 
to 358 in 1998. While arrests for robbery, burglary and auto theft declined 
nationwide, there was an increase in each of those crimes at Rutgers in New 

The number of car thefts at Rutgers rose from 15 in 1997 to 24 in 1998; 
burglaries increased from 57 to 63, and robberies edged up from 6 to 8.

On the other hand, sex offenses declined at Rutgers from 22 to 14, defying 
an average 11 percent increase nationwide. The New Brunswick campuses 
tallied slightly fewer aggravated assaults and weapons arrests, which also 
ran counter to national trends.

Aggravated assaults drifted from 9 to 7 at Rutgers between 1997 and 1998, 
while arrests for weapons violations declined from 7 to 3.
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart