Ole Miss campus arrests up in 2010

By Alyssa Schnugg/The Oxford Eagle

OXFORD — Campus police at the University of Mississippi were kept busy in 2010 with the total number of arrests more than doubling from 2009. Drug-related arrests tripled from 2009 to 2010.

“We have a lot more students, a lot more potential for arrests,” said University Police Department Chief Calvin Sellers.

The freshman class is the largest incoming class to date at Ole Miss, with a total 4,763 enrolled students — a 19 percent increase from last year’s incoming freshman class.

However, not all those arrested by UPD are students. Some are people coming onto the campus and breaking the law, Sellers said.

Most of the increase of arrests was seen in the fall semester of 2010.

In 2009, UPD officers made 269 arrests on various charges. That number also includes 79 moving violations that, while they are listed as arrests in a report from UPD, don’t always result in an actual arrest. Defendants are instead given a notice to appear in court.

In 2010, they made 604 arrests which includes issuing 216 notices to appear for moving violations.

The biggest jump in crimes was under the drugs category, with 34 in 2009 and 108 in 2010, although a large portion of the arrests in both years were for possession of drug paraphernalia, rather than actual drug possession.

In 2009, 22 of the 34 drug-related arrests were for possession of drug paraphernalia, while 11 were for possession of marijuana and one arrest was for possession of a controlled substance; however, what kind of substance isn’t noted.

In 2010, 86 were charged with possession of drug paraphernalia out of the 108 drug-related arrests. Fifteen arrest were made for possession of marijuana and six were for possession a controlled substance. One arrest in 2010 was for selling marijuana.

Paraphernalia generally involves materials used to smoke pot, Sellers said.

“Also, containers or pill bottles with marijuana residue,” he said. “This class seems more interested in drugs. It’s sad.”

Alcohol-related arrests almost doubled from 2009 from 60 to 112. Most of the arrests are for public drunkenness with 57 in 2009 and 97 in 2010.

With four UPD officers who were deployed overseas returning in 2010, Sellers believes having more officers on the street helped in making more arrests.

“We’re not putting a big emphasis on how many arrests we make,” Sellers said. “I believe it’s a combination of more students and more officers making more stops, creating more opportunities to see something wrong going on.”

UPD has 32 certified officers who work four shifts. Four officers and one supervisor work each shift. He said two more officers will soon be added to the night shifts.

One of the more alarming increases is the number of DUI arrests at UM, Sellers said. In 2009, the entire year netted 20 DUIs. For 2010, officers made 68 arrests for those driving under the influence, with 44 of those arrests happening in the fall semester of 2010 alone.

“That’s a real concern for us,” Sellers said. “We offer so many ways for students to not have to drive while under the influence. We’d like to reverse this trend. We all know the outcome of DUI. Eventually, someone’s going to be injured or killed again.”

DUI-related deaths have struck at the heart of Ole Miss three times since 2003 when 19-year-old student Laura Treppendahl was killed in a head-on collision. The driver, also 19, had a blood alcohol level of 0.19 percent at the time of the wreck.

In 2004, student Amie Ewing was hit and killed by a drunk driver while she was crossing Mississippi Highway 6 on foot after a football game.

In 2006, UPD lost one of its own when Officer Robert Langley was killed when a student, Daniel Cummings, drove off during a traffic stop, dragging Langley for about 200 yards. Cummings was under the influence of drugs and alcohol, authorities said.

Scott Wallace, assistant dean of students, said his office has been busy as well, since whenever a student is arrested for a drug or alcohol offense, they are referred to the dean’s office.

“It’s a shame,” he said.

The university implemented a “two-strike policy” after Langley’s death in 2006. Students receiving a first strike are put on probation for at least two semesters. If they are charged with a second strike while on probation, they are suspended for the remaining semester and one more full semester.

Since its conception, about 1,200 students have received a first strike and 21 have been suspended. In the 2010 fall semester, three students were suspended. In the spring semester of 2010, there were no suspensions issued.

“There were more arrests last semester, but we’ve also had a lot more students,” Wallace said.

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