October 14, 2010

Drug, Alcohol Offenses Up 75 Percent Over Two Years

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The Cornell University Police Department arrested or referred to the Office of the Judicial Administrator 224 more suspects for alcohol or drug violations in 2009 than 2007 — a 75.4 percent increase that CUPD Chief Kathy Zoner attributed to a variety of factors.

Zoner speculated that the uptick of alcohol and drug violations — from 297 in 2007 to 521 in 2009 — was primarily caused by an increase in fully trained CUPD officers on patrol, given that some officers were still in training in 2007. New officers “weren’t as active as they are now,” although this change is not a result of any alteration in CUPD policy, Zoner said. She also noted that 2007 was the earliest year for which these figures were available.

According to Zoner, the rise of referrals and arrests was in no way a reflection of new policy or agenda set forth by the CUPD or the administration.

Drug arrests and referrals have increased from 105 in 2007 to 226 in 2009, a 115 percent increase, according to the CUPD.

Zoner said a “cultural change” could be causing the increase in drug arrests from 2007 to 2009. “I’ve noticed people more openly smoke pot [now],” Zoner said. “It’s more socially acceptable, so therefore they’re not making as great an effort to conceal their smoking.”

The drug violations were mainly attributable to marijuana arrests, Zoner said, but the CUPD has “certainly seen an uptick” in crack cocaine and heroin violations as well.

Zoner also said the rise of alcohol and drug incidences on Cornell’s campus could be caused by “depressed economic conditions,” given that “people respond to mind-altering substances when they feel out of control.”

Although a majority of CUPD’s incidence reports reflect violations by Cornell students, Zoner said a “large number” of non-students drive through Cornell’s campus and are included in the CUPD’s violation figures.

The increase of violations reported by the CUPD was most prominent for off-campus referrals and arrests for alcohol and drugs, which increased from just three in 2007 to 47 in 2008 before going back down to 36 in 2009.

“There [are] no new properties that we’re making arrests on,” Zoner said. She attributed the particularly sharp rise of off-campus arrests to CUPD officials acting more on their own volition and the “student population not being as concerned about being caught, apparently.”

Zoner added that criminal arrests go through the municipal system, whereas referrals go through the University’s judicial administrator system.

Original Author: Jeff Stein