An increase in reported crime in the Hill Section this semester concerns University students living off campus.
Many Hill Section residents were disappointed with the lack of action taken by University police after a University student was assaulted by non-university students Halloween weekend.
“I have never really heard of those things happening at The University until I watched it happen from my window,” a University student living in the Hill Section, Jack Wertz, recalled from Halloween weekend.
Off-campus residents are aware of the other non-students also living in the Hill Section, but believe that the students are the sole focus of city police.
“Every time police make a scene about busting a party it causes more trouble for students and the police. Students start to run out of houses with open containers for the sake of not getting in trouble while the police are spreading the crime,” Wertz said.
Off-campus residents in the Quincy and Monroe block have noticed more Scranton Police patrol than the past semesters.
“University police should be the ones driving around, University police should be the ones coming to our door instead of city police,” Wertz said
Director of Public Safety and University Police Chief, Donald Bergmann also noticed the increase of police activity, but claims this is a trend that happens at the beginning of each school year.
Bergmann explained the class size of the first-year students is larger than last year’s, and first year students typically count for half the conduct issues.
“I think a lot of the activity we have seen we’ve expected and were staffed for it, but overall as far as crime I think it is very consistent with what we typically see — I think we’ve seen the most increase alcohol related issues,” Bergmann said.
Bergmann understands that students are doing their best to stay safe during the weekend.
“Every situation is different and unique where it could be prompted by a phone call to 911 or a complaint by someone who lives in the area about some of the activity that is going on, and it is most typically something that police encounter while out on patrol and when they see something they have an obligation to address the issue,” Bergmann said.
Bergmann wants to ensure students that the police are there to keep them safe, so the students, The University and the Scranton community stay out of trouble.
“I understand that the students think –sometimes they are being targeted, and I would say that’s a very poor choice of words. That and profiling doesn’t happen,” Bergmann said. “If a student would walk down the street with an open container when it’s against the law, I would say that’s misguided and defies logic especially if they are underage and when there is a police presence off campus.”
Bergmann said he has seen more responsible behavior in students over the years but encourages them to consistently do the right thing.
“For the most part, it is a fun environment and I understand that but for the most part there is a lot at stake,” Bergmann said.