After a recent string of crimes on campus, there is growing concern among students about rising crime rates at UWG. According to UWG Police Chief Thomas Mackel, the rising crime rate is nothing to be alarmed at.
“It may seem like there’s a dramatic increase in crime, but when you look at the numbers, it’s not out of the ordinary,” said Mackel. “Maybe it seems like that because so many incidents happened in a short period of time.”
Four strong-armed robberies have occurred since September, two of those happened Sept. 20, the night of UWG’s homecoming. Three men from Marietta, described by police as black males, started a racially charged altercation with two UWG students on homecoming night at a Maple Street gas station. Shortly after the incident, the two remaining men were arrested on campus for assaulting a student near Gill Fountain. None of the three men arrested are students of UWG.
“The perpetrators that were arrested under assault charges on homecoming night are also claiming to have gang affiliations and are facing gang charges,” said Mackel.
Police have made no arrests in a robbery that occurred on Oct. 5 at the path near the Biology Building in which a student was also violently assaulted.
According to Mackel, one particular local gang called FAMU has a strong presence on UWG’s campus.
“[FAMU] has been around for a few years now in some form or another,” said Mackel. “We’ve seen them on campus. As far as knock-down-drag-out gang violence, we haven’t seen that. That’s something we’re trying to stay on top of.”
Police say FAMU typically display red, white and blue colors to represent their gang affiliation. The colors may be confused with UWG’s school colors, but Mackel says the gang wears them in a particular fashion in order to distinguish themselves from college students.
“If you’re a gangbanger, you know what it means,” said Mackel. “They may have a kerchief or something around their neck, or a head covering of some sort. Most of the time, they will have it hanging out of their pocket so they can quickly conceal it if law enforcement sees them.”
The UWG Police Department (UWGPD) has assigned two officers to work with the Carrollton Police Department and the Carroll County Sheriff’s deputies as a specialized gang task force.
“Some of these individuals we have arrested are claiming to be affiliated with gangs in the area,” said Mackel. “We have not verified these claims for the suspects we arrested from the shooting that occurred recently.”
The strong-armed robberies on homecoming were enough cause for alarm among UWG students, but the violent incidents do not stop there. Police say as many as 30 people were involved in a brawl at Bowdon Hall on Oct. 20.
“We were able to identify most of the individuals responsible for that fight,” said Mackel. “The main perpetrators have been arrested. We haven’t been able to determine the motive for it.”
Two incidents that recently occurred at The Villages townhome complex involved a firearm. Mackel says both incidents appear to have gang affiliated motives.
“One group made a comment about another group’s [gang] colors,” said Mackel. “From there, it developed into a confrontation and somebody had a gun and fired off one round.”
In the second instance, which occurred just two days later, a suspect allegedly showed a gun to a tow truck driver as his vehicle was being impounded.
The UWGPD recently joined SGA and participated in a ‘Night Walk’ in which both parties sought to identify areas of campus that are dimly lit and could pose a danger to students walking through campus at night. UWG’s police force is also taking other measures to ensure student safety on campus.
“We have been working with city [police] in putting up roadblocks in order to screen people before they are able to get into campus,” said Mackel. “We’ve also brought in extra officers to patrol the campus.”