GVPD reports higher level of assault cases


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Joseph Poulos, Staff Writer

Grand Valley State University’s Police Department has reported an increase in assault and domestic violence cases for the 2022-23 academic year.

GVPD Sergeant Leah Heaton provided statistics comparing the number of assaults and domestic violence reported between the last two years.

“This year, between Aug. 1 and where we are today, we have had 12 assaults and 6 domestic assaults,” Heaton said. “To put that into perspective, last year between August and August, we had 16 total, which is two less than we already have for this year, but we’re not through the whole year.”

Heaton said he believes the rise in assaults may have something to do with students returning to in-person classes.

“It is a lot more simple assault cases rather than domestic,” Heaton said. “Friends are getting into fights, enemies are getting into fights. I think people may be getting back to being face to face with people and need to learn how to handle themselves.”

In addition to the increase in assaults, students have also reported sightings of suspicious persons and vehicles during the month of February.

Heaton said a significant number of these reported sightings are often attributed to noise complaints and weekend activities. She said students should still be aware of things that they think are suspicious.

“It’s kind of all over the place,” Heaton said. “We get a lot of calls about people screaming outside. It’s usually the weekend, people may be intoxicated or whatever. That’s a big one.”

Heaton emphasized the need to report any suspicious activity to the police so they can determine whether or not it’s a legitimate concern, and that it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

“Anything that is out of the ordinary, we appreciate the phone calls,” Heaton said. “If it turns out to be nothing, that’s great. If it turns out to be something, we like to know about it sooner rather than later.”

Heaton said most calls about suspicious vehicles pertain to potential thefts in or around automobiles.

“We get suspicious calls about people looking into vehicles,” Heaton said. “We get some catalytic converter thefts as well.”

For incidents where a student feels like a vehicle may be following them or behaving erratically, Heaton said the police are happy to help put students’ minds at ease.

“With the vehicles, usually the calls that we get there are ‘this car has been following me for awhile,’” Heaton said. “Our campus is only so big, so it would be a little weird if a car followed you through the whole thing. If we can, we direct them to the police department so we can capture the car, or at least they are safe here.”

As it relates to any and all potential emergency calls, Heaton said there are certain things to keep in mind if you feel like a 911 call is warranted.

“If you feel safe calling, call,” Heaton said. “If you feel like you would be unsafe making that phone call, try to get somewhere safe to do it. We have the Laker Guardian app where you can actually text us and speak to our dispatch.”

In addition to the Laker Guardian app, other resources are available for students to feel safer on campus.

“We have safe walks on campus if you don’t want to walk from your car to your living center,” Heaton said. “Don’t ever feel bad about calling 911. It’s what we are here for. We get paid to show up.”