UCLA Crime Rate Report Misleading, Chief Claims

Times Staff Writer

UCLA's police chief Tuesday said the campus is relatively safe despite FBI figures showing it has one of the highest crime rates of any university in the country.

"When you hear on the news that UCLA is the second most violent campus in the country it's an exaggeration, or a play on words," said Pat Connolly, head of the 51-member police force at the Westwood campus.

Student Escorts

There were 45 violent crimes at UCLA in 1984, up from 27 the year before.

Given the large numbers of people who frequent the campus--as many as 70,000 at peak hours--the total for 1984 does not amount to a crime wave, Connolly said.

"Still, that's not to say we don't have a problem," he said. "We realize we've got a problem. We're trying to deal with that problem."

Steps taken recently include increased patrols, stake-out units, better lighting in parking lots and use of nearly 200 student volunteers as escorts, Connolly said.

Figures for 1985 are down from last year, he said, with 27 crimes against persons reported as of Monday.

Connolly said he did not know why the violent crime total increased in 1984, especially since crime figures dropped that summer because of the massive security surrounding Olympic events and the Olympic Village at UCLA.

"Our statistics, if compared to a city of equal population, would show that we're a pretty darn safe place," he said.

University of Maryland

According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report of 1984, violent crimes in Beverly Hills, which has a population of 33,900, totaled 329 in 1984, while the total for Santa Monica, with a population of 92,788, was 979.

The University of Maryland's College Park campus reported the most violent crimes of any university last year. There were 53 reported cases at the school, which has 31,521 students and is located near Washington, D.C.

UCLA, with 33,388 students, reported as many violent crimes as Michigan State University at East Lansing, which has 44,940 students.

Despite the fact that the figures came from the FBI's annual crime report, which was published several months ago, bureau spokesman Bill Carter said rankings, such as those compiled by the University of Maryland student newspaper Monday, can be misleading.

Variables at Play

"There are so many variables in effect that no ranking can be given," he said. Such factors include rural or urban settings and the size of the institution, Cotter said.

The UCLA figures included 3 forcible rapes, 16 robberies and 26 aggravated assaults. There were 1,984 property crimes, including 419 burglaries, 1,389 thefts and 176 motor vehicle thefts.

"The students, faculty and staff are not perpetrators," Connolly said. "These are people from off-campus. UCLA is an attractive place to go. Lots of cars come in. Lots of guys like to come in to commit crimes."

He also said that a significant portion of the violent crimes occurred in outlying areas that are not part of the campus proper, such as the sprawling parking lot west of Westwood Village.

"Unfortunately, wherever you are, whether in L.A. or in Olathe, Kan. (a suburb of Kansas City), you've got to be prepared to watch out for yourself to some degree," he said.

Although USC, which does not have a full-fledged police force of its own, does not report crime figures to the FBI, spokesman Carl A. Levredge said there were 17 violent crimes at the mid-city campus in 1984.

The university's security officers responded to an additional 41 violent crimes in the surrounding area under an agreement with the Los Angeles Police Department, he said.

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