The West Chester Chief of Police, Scott Bohn, said at a press conference at West Chester University that there has been a “13 percent reduction in serious crime” in the year of 2015.
Bohn included that there were about 1,990 crimes reported in 2015. He believed 2015 was a sign of improvement.
“Arguably our numbers are very good,” said Bohn.
He also commends the current student body at West Chester University, and believes student behavior of West Chester has been improving over the years.
West Chester University has had a reputation for being a “party school,” and has even been featured on websites ranking the top 100 “party schools” in America. Bohn has always been aware of the party scene and how the town residents and students have problems with one another during the weekends.
Bohn reflected on a large party that happened at a house close to campus a few years ago. This event attracted hundreds of students, which caused the police to intervene and stop the party before it reached its peak. Intoxicated students paraded through the streets, and reckless behavior occurred as a few students flipped a parked car, which appeared in national news after this rowdy weekend.
This event caused concern amongst the borough and the university to cooperate with local police more.
Within a brief time after this event, the borough of West Chester voted to pass a proposal to post more than 200 “quiet hour zone” signs around the borough and throughout streets near the university. These violations can cause one to pay more than $300.
According to the Daily Local, the general provision of the borough states that “it is unlawful for anyone to cause a noise disturbance while specific limitations are put on electronic devices, tools and musical instruments, among others.”
Bohn made it clear that there has always been some type of noise ordinance before the signs were placed throughout the neighborhoods. He believes they are more of a reminder to students to respect their neighbors when it comes to the noise throughout the streets.
Today, a majority of parties at the university tend to be smaller, which was pointed out by Bohn.
This is one of the factors for why he believes student behavior has improved instead of “5,000 students walking the streets with their red cups.”
The university’s reputation is progressively changing from the “party school” to now one of the most difficult universities in Pennsylvania to be accepted into today based on academic requirements.
The demand for this university has significantly increased over the years with the student body ranging about 16,000 students or more.
“There may be more serious students attending this university, or they are more careful with their behavior now,” said Bohn.
Bohn also informed the audience that there has been a significant reduction in 2015 with the percentage of underage drinking violations. There has been a “36 percent reduction” of underage violations. This may factor into the conclusion that the university has their own separate reporting, according to Bohn.
The university’s security force, Public Safety, may experience more with underage drinking violations than Bohn and his department.
Bohn said that “serious crime, homicide, rape, theft, and arson” are the crimes they usually report.
He did inform the audience that there is a database where they report everything including underage violations, where potential employers tend to check records for applicants.
There were about 24,000 calls during 2015, not including traffic stops, and 325 criminal arrests.
He pointed out that “serious crime” has dropped about 50 percent, and he attributed this fall to the university being one of the factors.
Serious crimes reported from the university are less than five percent of total crime in the borough considering the large population of the student body.
The problems the borough has with the university and how the police department do not agree on everything was significantly addressed.
Locals tend to blame crime and any other problems in this borough on the university’s students. Bohn’s statistics and comments prove that the West Chester student body is not to blame.
“The town is a hot spot and it attracts college students and younger crowds from all over the region,” said Bohn.
Even though the statistics prove that most “serious crimes” are committed by people younger than 25 years old, the university and any of its students are rarely involved.
Bohn said the number of licensed alcohol distributors throughout the borough is extremely high, with more than 40 places.
It has become more affordable for business owners to purchase these licenses, and therefore the town of West Chester has a high rate of bars per capita. Bohn said that Penn State University is the only “college town” that has a higher rate of bars per capita in the state.
The university has attracted more well-rounded, behaved, and focused students in recent years. Bohn hopes to see the number of alcohol related crimes with the university’s students to continue to decrease year after year.
Juian Keys is a fourth-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. JK764538@wcupa.edu