Sinclair Community College ranks among the safest communities in the region for violent crime, a fact that might be surprising to some because of the urban location of the main campus.
The violent crime rate is below even exceptionally safe communities including Bellbrook, Beavercreek and Germantown – all cities that have among the lowest violent crime rates in the region according to 2015 FBI violent crime statistics.
Sinclair has a violent crime rate of .05 per 1,000 based on the main campus population of 21,476. The violent crime rate consists of murder and non-negligent homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.
Broadening the categories to lesser quality of life crimes tells a similar story, even when non-educational buildings and adjacent public streets and sidewalks are included.
In a 2015 report sent to the Department of Education, Sinclair police tallied two robberies, three burglaries, one fondling, one motor vehicle theft and 11 drug abuse violations.
In total, crimes of every kind including trespassing, credit card misuse and thefts of unattended property like cell phones numbered 118, an 18.6 percent decline from 2014, said Charles Gift, Sinclair’s Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police.
How does Sinclair, the third largest community college in the state, keep crime so low while allowing open access to the public?
Gift, a career law enforcement officer and Dayton Police Department veteran, said the key is a philosophy of community policing, or close interaction between security forces and the campus community.
Uniformed sworn officers favor bike patrolling to police cruisers, meeting with students, talking to them, finding out what’s going on.
Police are mostly on mountain bikes or on foot patrol. “It’s so that people can see them.” Gift said. “Most crimes are crimes of opportunity and thefts of opportunity.”
The police officers play another role, too.
“Campus police are ambassadors for the college,” he said. “We utilize the community and problem solving for faculty and staff. We’d rather prevent a problem from happening. If it’s predictable, it’s preventable.”
Campus police work closely with Dayton city police monitoring campus surroundings. Coffee with a Cop sessions are held in the library and community outreach sessions are offered to discuss sexual assault and relationship violence prevention.
It helps that the college has a robust law enforcement division. Its $2.7 million budget pays for 22 sworn officers, 51 safety officers equipped with two-way radios, and on the Dayton campus, 129 security cameras.
The safety officers, strategically based around the campus, are the extra eyes and ears of security. In other locations, Blue Light Towers – 40 can be found around the Dayton campus – allow anyone to directly alert campus police to an emergency.
As for crimes of opportunity, unattended property thefts of items like cell phones and laptops are the most common, Gift said.
Among the best pieces of advice police can offer is that students, faculty and staff keep an eye on expensive gear and to not leave it out of sight for any period of time.
Sinclair campus police Lt. Michael Coss offers more advice to keep the crime rate down.
“Make sure you take a campus tour and know the landscape,” Coss said. “Pay attention to your surroundings and keep track of your possessions. Much of the theft is unattended property and it can happen quickly.”