Oakland from the air

Oakland from the air

Sage Ross / flickr

Which Pittsburgh campus is safest? Which has the highest crime rate?

We turned to Pa. Uniform Crime Reporting System data to find out.

Oakland from the air

Oakland from the air

Sage Ross / flickr
MJ Slaby

Pittsburgh’s college students will soon be back in class. The fall semester starts Aug. 21 for Duquesne University and Aug. 28, the rest of Pittsburgh’s college students return to class.

Ahead of students’ return, we wanted to know: Which of Pittsburgh’s four-year colleges is safest?

Every fall, colleges and universities publish annual security and fire safety reports with data about crimes in the past three years. Ahead of this year’s reports, we turned to the previous timeframe of 2013-15 for comparison, using data from the Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Reporting System. This data represents crimes that happen on campus (unlike the Clery Act crime data, which includes areas around college campuses) and to keep things consistent we counted all “reported offenses.” Here’s what we found.

Overall crime rate

To keep campuses comparable, The Incline factored the crime rate for each campus in 2014 and 2015 by taking the total crimes reported through the state system and dividing it by the school’s FTE (full-time enrollment of students and faculty) and multiplying that number by 1,000 for a crime rate per 1,000 people.

Note that Chatham University reported no crimes during these two years. Bill Campbell, Chatham’s vice president for marketing and communications, attributed the nonexistent crime rate to a small student body, especially before Chatham became co-ed in 2015, and said there were discipline violations, just nothing that rose to the level of a crime.

And for Point Park, Jeffrey Besong, assistant vice president of public safety and the university’s police chief, pointed to a few reasons for the crime rate. First, he said 2014 was the year that Point Park “replaced non-sworn public safety officers with more sworn police officers.”

“That gave us more sworn police officers on the streets of Downtown Pittsburgh. About 99 percent of our arrests are non-students. Since Point Park is in the heart of Pittsburgh and we are in the pathway of a lot of big events in the city – parades, protests, the marathon, etc. – we tend to deal with many non-students,” he wrote in an email to The Incline, adding incidents involving students are handled through the school’s judicial office.

Drugs, liquor and drunkenness

For this chart, we combined the data for crimes in the liquor laws, drunkenness and drug possession and sale categories and calculated the crime rate the same way as above. The chart doesn’t include DUI reports. In the two-year span:

  • Point Park and Duquesne each reported one DUI in 2014.
  • Carlow reported one in 2015.
  • Pitt reported 29 in 2014 and 61 in 2015.
  • CMU reported 10 in 2014 and 8 in 2015.

Theft and burglary

Here, the crime rate was calculated again for crimes in the larceny-theft category and three types of burglary (unlawful entry-no force; attempted forcible entry and forcible entry.) Not included is motor vehicle theft. In 2014 and 2015, only one vehicle was reported stolen, from Pitt’s campus in 2015.

Sexual assault

These charts use the number of reports for rape and “sex offenses,” which is all sex crimes except for rape and prostitution (none of the six campuses had reports of the latter). To breakout the number of reported rape cases, only three of the schools reported at least one rape case in the three year span.

  • The most were at Pitt — four per year in 2013 and 2014 and eight in 2015.
  • At CMU, there was one reported rape in 2014 and one in 2015.
  • Point Park reported one rape case in 2013.