Initiative for reporting crime on campuses
Recently, Cornell University announced that a resolution was approved to remove the suspects race from the crime alerts students receive. Part of the resolution states that “the knowledge that a crime committed by a Black man does not make CRIME ALERT recipients any safer, but instead endangers Black people in the community, reinforcing the common phenomenon of violence against Black people on the grounds that they look like suspected criminals” (https://www.foxnews.com/us/cornell-faculty-race-crime-alerts).
According to the report, from January 2019 and on, Black men made up of 75% of suspects whose race was identified. While race does help identify an unknown suspect, what Cornell noticed is that race was used to provide vague descriptions in which any Black male could be targeted. One example of an alert is “an unknown black male approximately 5'7" with an average build, dark skin, wearing all black clothing and a black mask” (https://www.foxnews.com/us/cornell-faculty-race-crime-alerts). This message can be any black male walking down the street and ruins the purpose of crime alerts.
On campus crime alerts serve the purpose of addressing the campus community when crimes or issues arise to keep the community safe and to let everyone know not to be in the area of the crime. Two other universities, Brown and University of Minnesota, have changed the way they report crime as well. Will other universities follow these schools? The question regarding the push to change how crimes are being reported is to ask is if eliminating race from the crime alert will alleviate the problem of more black males being targeted?
Yes, I believe that by eliminating race from a crime alert, less black males will be targeted as suspects. However, when a crime occurs, the witness will most likely remember the suspects skin color than another detail such as the color of his shoes. How can we ensure to catch the correct suspect? Well by taking race out of the picture, the description becomes a lot narrower making it easier on officers to find the suspect. For example, the report can include height, sex, weight, clothing, hair color, and more. These details can help officers find a number of suspects to question and ultimately lead to the correct suspect.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, for all offenses, whites commit on average 7,014,550 crimes where blacks commit 2,667,010. These numbers provide proof that blacks do not commit more crimes on average. However, Cornell’s study does not match up to the average number of crimes committed. Cornell aims to ease these numbers and to not racially discriminate when catching suspects for on campus crimes. Cornell and two other universities are among the first to come out and say they will get rid of race. Hopefully other universities and colleges will follow in the footsteps. I am hopeful that this can prevent the amount of black people being targeted for crimes they didn’t commit. With the rising cases of blacks targeted and killed by police, I do believe this is only a minor change in a huge problem with policing that unfortunately cannot be changed overnight.