For every 10 aggravated assaults in Champaign and Urbana since fall 2020, four will happen on Green Street, according to the University of Illinois daily crime log.
The crime log, maintained by the university under the federal Clery Act, publicly updates a 60-day record of all crime reports on and near the university’s campus. CU-CitizenAccess obtained log data beginning August 2020 and ending in late September of this year, just over three years, via multiple Freedom of Information Act requests. The log records the general location of crimes, not exact addresses.
Since August 2020, 281 cases of aggravated assault and aggravated battery have been reported in 26 different subcategories. Nearly 40% of these cases took place on or near Green Street. These include some domestic assault and battery incidents.
Patrick Wade, senior director of strategic communications for the university’s Division of Public Safety, said the crimes are kept in a particular format that includes reports from several police agencies, as required by the Clery Act. It includes details like the date and time of when the incident occurred and when it was reported, the crime description, the general location and the disposition or outcome.
“We always say that an informed campus is a safer campus. The more information we can make available about campus-area crime, the better,” Wade said.
Location data shows 47 aggravated assaults took place at KAMS, The Red Lion or Joe’s Brewery in the past three years — about 1 in ten aggravated assaults overall.
Since August 2020, 25 reports of aggravated assault have been made at The Red Lion, 12 were made at KAMS and 10 were made at Joe’s Brewery. Out of those 47 reports, The Red Lion accounts for more than half.
“I’ve seen a million fights,” Jabari Graham, a frequent bargoer and social psychology student at the university, said when detailing a dispute at KAMS in August. “There was no indication that something would pop off, it looked like a regular day at the bar, and then behind me all you hear is a loud boom.”
Graham said physical disputes at campus bars are common in his experience.
“Two drunk dudes fighting wasn’t anything special,” he said. “The security grabbed them and got them out quickly in like a flash and everyone just went back to partying.”
Wade said UIPD officers are accustomed to addressing physical disputes in a variety of locations, and liquor establishments are no exception to that.
“Anytime alcohol is involved, there tends to be a higher incidence of physical fights,” Wade said. “In a lot of bar fights, we find that the people involved are what we call ‘mutual combatants,’ which means that both parties were active participants in the fight or acted in a provoking manner.”
Wade said officers will separate the individuals involved if they haven’t separated already, and then interview the people involved and any witnesses to find out what happened. When it involves mutual combatants, the individuals are sent on their way. In cases where only one party was the primary aggressor, or where injuries are particularly severe, the aggressor can be cited or arrested for battery. Those charges can sometimes be elevated depending on the circumstances.
According to the university’s web page, the Clery Act requires colleges and universities to collect and report crime statistics and campus safety policies which then provides students, faculty, and staff with information about public safety issues on campus.
The crime log updates as reports are submitted through various law enforcement agencies such as the Champaign and Urbana police departments, the Title IX Office, or any of the hundreds of faculty members coded as a Campus Security Authority (CSA).
“We collect information from a variety of sources including our own police reports,” Wade said. “CSAs are required to inform University Police when they are made aware of a Clery Act qualifying crime so that we can evaluate it to determine if a Campus Safety Notice is required.”
Assaults only a fraction of overall crimes logged
Aggravated assaults, however, only make up less than 4% of crimes reported on the crime log. Data since August 2020 shows theft and underage drinking as the two most common crimes within the campus jurisdictions, which spans parts of Champaign and Urbana nearby campus.
CU-CitizenAccess previously reported that domestic violence incidents had increased in Champaign in 2020 compared with four years earlier. At that time, those incidents made up 8% of all crimes in Champaign.
About 25% of incidents are tied to theft and about 14% are tied to liquor violations.
“Theft is the most common crime on college campuses everywhere, and ours is no exception,” Wade said. “In the college environment, there’s a lot of ‘stuff’ laying around – laptops, cellphones, wallets, backpacks, etc. – at libraries, gyms, sports fields, residence halls, classrooms, and more.”
According to Wade, theft is a crime that can easily be avoided.
“Theft is easily preventable – most of the time, simply keeping items with you or locking it up, locking doors and windows, will deter criminals from taking your property,” Wade said. “When they encounter a lock, they will generally move on to an easier target.”
Wade said the trends seen at the University of Illinois are comparable elsewhere in the country.
“I can say with certainty that the statistics are similar on other college campuses of our size,” he said. “We’re basically a city within a city, and unfortunately, that means we experience a lot of the same social issues and crime issues that any city of a similar size would face.”
To prevent falling victim to any of the crimes reported on the log, Wade said community members need to remain aware.
“As a police department we have no problem with students enjoying their free time, we just want them to do it in a way that is safe and healthy,” Wade said. “Follow some basic safety tips like staying in groups when you are out at night, and don’t be afraid to speak up.”