University of Nevada, Reno Police Department: Perception of safety at the University

Project title

Why is there a negative perception of safety on the University of Nevada, Reno Campus?

Research question

While crime statistics show the campus to be safe, why are students, faculty and staff stating they feel in fear while on campus?

As a police department, we receive feedback that people are scared and/or in fear for their safety while on the campus. We are looking for the following: Do students, faculty and staff have a feeling of being safe in their own home after dark, walking alone in their neighborhoods after dark, or walking in their city/town during the day or night, where statistically they are more at risk of being the victim of a violent crime than on campus.

We’d like a University research intern to dig deeper into the contributing factors of why there is a perceived feeling of fear on campus. Are these contributing factors because of:

  • legitimate occurrences of violent crime on campus
  • what is happening on a national level through media (anti-Semitism, government, politics, and racism)
  • personal experiences with University police, local/city police, a staff or faculty member, etc.?

And, what do students, faculty and staff feel should be in place to reduce the perceptions of being unsafe while on campus?

Background

University officers have full police powers, certified under the laws of the State of Nevada. They perform the same function as officers from city, county and state agencies - enforcing all local, state and federal laws and ordinances within the jurisdiction of the University of Nevada, Reno.

University Police Services is responsible for policing at the University of Nevada, Reno, Truckee Meadows Community College, Desert Research Institute, Western Nevada College and Great Basin College.

Statistically speaking, the university is safe. Property crime shows to be high, while all violent crime categories show very low. This means statistically, you as a student, faculty, staff or visitor will be more likely to encounter being the victim of a theft or damage to your property than a violent crime.

Deliverables

A recommended methodology to measure the perception of safety while on campus based on the above criteria.

Suggested skills

If possible, we would like an undergraduate student who is studying political science, criminal justice or psychology.

They should have some experience with research projects (i.e., know how to write and implement a survey, tabulate and analyze data). The student should be proficient in the basic suite of Microsoft Office tools: Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, have a good handle on social media and be comfortable interacting with people.

This should include the desirable field of study for student applicants or training/experiences that would be a benefit to the project.

Agency representative

Todd Renwick
trenwick@unr.edu
(775) 784-4013