Geneseo listed among colleges with most drug arrests per capita

HuffPost College released statistics from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education on Monday Feb 2. that determined the top 50 schools in regard to drug-related arrests per capita. State Universities of New York had a strong presence on the list, with four schools in the top 10 and four more scattered throughout. Geneseo placed 30th, down from 7th in 2012.

The rankings indicated that 5.8 out of every 1,000 students at Geneseo were arrested for drug offenses in 2013. Interim Chief of University Police Thomas Kilcullen reported that there were 33 arrests made on campus that year and 64 made in 2012.

“There are two main factors that affect the number of drug arrests made on college campuses, which are the levels of enforcement and the displacement of drug use,” he said.

The impact of law enforcement has a direct correlation to the number of arrests made at Geneseo. From 2012 to 2013, the UPD lost four officers. Consequently, the number of arrests made on campus dropped by almost half. Yet in 2014, three more officers were hired and thus the number of arrests jumped up to 50.

Kilcullen related the displacement of drug use to his time as Chief of Police at SUNY Albany, where when drug arrests on campus would decrease, those of the local county police would increase. Kilcullen noted that he figured a similar pattern would follow at Geneseo.

Large amounts of off-campus housing can also sway the number of arrests made, since it is in most residence halls where complaints are filed over odors of illegal substances like marijuana.

Looking at the significant number of schools in the Northeast ranked as those with the most arrests per capita, one can also conclude that the colder climate inhibits students from using substances like marijuana outside. Along with corridor-style residences, this makes it easier for the UPD officers to pinpoint those using drugs.

The rankings do not take note of schools using an actual police force versus those who employ a public safety officer, however.

“In New York State, the private institutions do not have a university police force to deal with cases like unlawful possession of marijuana as we do,” Kilcullen said. “Many times at these institutions, drug use issues end with referral, where our police force will implement an actual arrest.”

Head student officer of Geneseo’s First Response senior Kyle Parnell agreed with Chief Kilcullen’s observations in his response to the report.

“Many universities do not have a dedicated police force. As they are not governmental organizations, many must privately contract trained individuals to compose a Department of Student and Public Safety, to give a generic term,” Parnell said. “Many times, the officers these departments may have security training, public safety officer training or even police or military background, but the departments themselves do not have the same resources and legal capabilities as a dedicated police department.”

Most of Geneseo’s drug related arrests involve possession of marijuana. Very few cases involve drugs of a stronger caliber, although the UPD officers carry narcan in case of a situation involving an overdose.

Overall, Kilcullen noted that he is content with the ranking, as it indicates successful law enforcement.

He added, however, that, “The true conversation in regard to this article is about institutions that aren’t on the list.”