How much crime in State College is alcohol related?
As in most college towns, State College police officers deal with a high number of alcohol-related crimes and calls for service.
According to Community Relations Officer Adam Salyards, about 74 percent of all police calls in any given year are alcohol related. In the 2017-18 school year, there were 1,777 alcohol-related arrests, which he says is comparable to the past five years.
“Alcohol issues in a college town are a big concern for us, our department, our town,” he said. “Honestly the majority of our calls in one way or another are alcohol-related issues.”
Unlike in large cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, State College has a low amount of what the Federal Bureau of Investigation calls Index crimes — willful homicide, forcible rape, robbery, burglary, aggravated assault, larceny over $50, motor vehicle theft and arson.
However, the amount of total crimes in State College is driven up by Part II crimes, such as criminal mischief, simple assault, vandalism, stolen property, public indecency, drug violations, DUI, liquor law infractions, public drunkenness and disorderly conduct.
A look at data from a staffing study commissioned by State College police in 2011 illustrates just how much those Part II crimes add up.
Data from 2011 shows that in terms of Index crimes reported per 1,000 residents, State College is low compared with Pennsylvania as a whole: 18 to 26. But when it comes to total crimes, State College has 112 to Pennsylvania’s 73.
Although Part II crimes are considered lesser offenses, they still can cause destruction to a community.
“We know when we last looked it at, it was millions of dollars of impact; all of the destruction and the injury and the alcohol-related (incidents), it’s not just the people having to go to the hospital, it’s the fights, assaults, sexual assaults, vandalism, noise — it’s all those types of things that take a toll both within quality of life and we have to have many extra officers because of that,” said Tom King, assistant borough manager of public safety and former State College police chief.
A large amount of those alcohol-related arrests happen during the first 10 weeks of the fall semester — Penn State football season.
According to data taken from the first 10 weeks of the 2017 fall semester, 1,353 total crimes and ordinance violations were reported.
The 1,147 Part II crimes included:
- 335 for noise
- 152 for liquor law infractions
- 104 for public drunkenness
- 69 for public urination
- 47 for open container
- 37 for driving under the influence
- 29 for drug violations
- 8 for furnishing alcohol
- 366 other
There were 206 Index crimes, including 15 rapes or sexual assaults.
“It does come at a manpower cost, because it’s basically an all-hands-on-deck type of event, whether it’s Arts Fest or football, at some point or another over football weekend, every officer in our department will be working, whether it’s a normal scheduled work day or if it’s overtime,” Salyards said. “So as you can imagine, it can come with a pretty high price tag.”