With a 15 percent incident report increase from January to April as compared to last year’s data of the same time period, it is clear to see that Keene has statistically become more crime ridden. Moreover, many of the crimes this city, and by extension, this campus have seen, have been violent crimes, or crimes with the ability to cause harm, ranging from robberies, people being held at gunpoint, assaults, and most recently, the emergence of exploding bottles.
It is hard sometimes to draw any conclusion about the rising crime levels without statistical data. We must step back and ask ourselves if the national media coverage of violent acts has somehow led us to make anecdotal assumptions about our own little KSC bubble. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Campus Safety confirmed that crime, especially that of violent nature, is on the rise. This may be a fluke, but we must take it seriously.
The cause of these crimes is difficult to nail down. Safety Director Amanda Warman said, “I think there’s a myriad of problems that it’s really hard when you talk about crime to draw a straight line between cause and effect.” Much of this crime is caused by the intermingling of KSC students and Keene residents while one or both parties are intoxicated.
This is not something that should, or could be, stopped. We should just be more aware of our environment, especially while venturing into the sketchy parts of town. Warman also mentioned crimes being committed over drugs, property, and money.
Then what must we do about it? First, we should not overreact to this issue. Being prepared and responsible does not require that we live in fear. So rather than hide in your room, too afraid to walk down the street in fear of exploding water bottles, gun toting criminals, or drunk thugs, just be responsible and alert. If you are going to be intoxicated to the point where you can’t protect yourself, make sure you’re with a friend who can take responsibility. You should be able to have a fun night at the bar without fearing for your safety.
Being appropriately prepared for an unforeseen crime can be difficult, but there are some basic, general rules that can really help ensure your safety. Firstly, if you are being attacked or fear being attacked, run away. I know it will hurt your ego but it will protect your health. You never know who is carrying a knife or a gun.
Secondly, have a cell phone prepared to call 9-1-1 or to snap a picture of the aggressor. This can go a long way because you can help victims of a crime that you aren’t involved in.
Lastly, you should report incidents to Campus Safety. Luckily, the amount of reports has risen recently. Whether it be because more crimes are being committed, or because the student body is more alert, it doesn’t matter. The only way Campus Safety can be proactive is if people report suspicious or blatant activity.
Most recently, we have seen an emerging number of exploding bottles, which, at first thought, don’t seem overly dangerous. Do not underestimate the danger of these little explosives, though.
They can lay dormant for a period of time and explode unexpectedly. They have enough power to severely damage you with the shrapnel it produces. Simply avoiding any suspicious bottles will keep you safe from these things.
Let’s not jump to any conclusions about who is to blame, either. Rumors have been floating around, both on and off campus, blaming KSC students and locals alike for the increase in crime.
This does not do us any good. It only succeeds in dividing law abiding citizens when we should remain united against whomever these violent thugs are.
And again, don’t let this rising crime issue negatively affect your life. Let us, as KSC students, build Keene culture as we’d like to see it.