Police reports from Halloween weekend at West Virginia University are reflecting pre-pandemic crime rates on campus.
“I looked at the numbers, and it looks like we're comparable to 2019. Now last year was an exception because of the pandemic and not everyone was here,” said University Police Chief Sherry St. Clair.
Offenses throughout Halloween weekend on campus primarily consisted of public intoxication, underage alcohol citations and loud parties or gatherings. St. Clair said the primary offenses seen over Halloween weekend are alcohol-related.
There were 14 cases of underage possession on campus on Halloween weekend, a 27% increase from 2019.
According to the UPD records the Daily Athenaeum acquired through public request, three large parties were broken up over Halloween weekend. The locations of said parties include Alpha Sigma Phi, Theta Chi and an unnamed group located on Belmar Avenue.
All three gatherings were intervened by police early morning on Oct. 31 due to maximum capacity breaches. Fire Marshals issued citations with assistance from UPD at two of the three gatherings.
The gathering on Belmar Avenue is still under investigation due to no occupants of the house taking responsibility for the party. The house was said to be associated with “Alpha Omni”, according to residents of the house, but Fire Marshals were "unable to verify the validity of the group name".
A fraternity of that name does not exist in Morgantown. The Fire Marshals will be following up on this event later in the week.
Alpha Sigma Phi and Theta Chi are not recognized by WVU.
When asked about how the home football game affected offenses over Halloween weekend, Chief St. Clair responded, “What helped us this year, a little bit, was that it was raining.”
“The weather has a lot to do with whether a lot of people go out then stay out and party. With the rain, it kept things down to a minimum. Even the football game there wasn't a whole lot at the football game, the turnout wasn't as great,” St. Clair said.
Only one offense took place in the Blue Lot on Oct. 29, according to the WVU Crime Log.
While navigating Halloween weekend, St. Clair said patrol units were centered around areas with a high student population.
“We also kind of emphasized around residence halls in our places like the Mountainlair and stuff like that,” St. Clair said.
Staffing shortages are being seen throughout police departments nationwide.
UPD works with Morgantown Police Department in cooperative zones around Morgantown where patrol units cross paths. These zones include areas on WVU’s downtown campus.
“There's kind of a mutual aid agreement where WVU needs assistance on a call will come and then vice versa,” said Morgantown Chief of Police PJ Scott about staff shortages in an interview last month.
Overall, offenses increased slightly but primarily remained consistent with pre-pandemic numbers for Halloween weekend on WVU’s campuses.