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USF’s Tampa campus is the least safe in Florida, study says

A ranking of 490 U.S. colleges found USF’s Tampa campus was the least safe in the state. Its St. Petersburg campus, however, was the third safest in the state.
University of South Florida's Marshall Student Center on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. Times (2018)
Published Apr. 17
Updated Apr. 18

Click here to read this story in Spanish

The University of South Florida’s Tampa campus is the least safe college campus in Florida, according to a recent ranking on ALARMS.org.

The site, managed by the National Council for Home Safety and Security, ranked 490 colleges based on law enforcement data and FBI crime reports, according to their website. They analyzed crime rates, looking at violent and non-violent incidents, and “police adequacy.”

But USF Tampa’s police chief, Chris Daniel, said Wednesday that the study’s methodology raised questions about its accuracy, particularly in its use of the phrase “police adequacy.” He could not compare USF’s crime rates with other schools, but he noted the college’s focus on safety.

“Everything we do is geared toward making this a comfortable environment,” he said. “We are, like any place, surrounded by some challenging areas, but we have a very good working relationship with the local agencies...we all work together to keep these problems at bay.”

The most common crime Daniel sees on campus is property theft, especially bicycles. Since 2013, he said, USF has reduced bicycle theft by 69 percent. Crime numbers in general have been on a gradual decline, he added.

Ben Rothering, a University of South Florida Psychology major, walks on campus Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. CHRIS URSO | Times

Although USF’s Tampa campus was ranked the least safe, USF’s St. Petersburg campus was deemed the third safest college in Florida, with a ranking of 118th on the nationwide list.

The Tampa campus ranked 382nd nationwide. Florida A&M University ranked 201st. The University of Central Florida ranked 258th. The University of Florida ranked 271st.

The ranking excluded colleges with less than 1,000 students and those that did not have substantial data available.

The safest college in America is Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn., according to the ranking. The least safe was the University of Michigan.

Daniel said the school will continue to examine its security policies.

“As a result of this, we’ll go back and reassess,” he said, “but we do that as a matter of practice anyway.”

In total, 14 Florida schools made it onto the list. See the complete state rankings below.

#20: Florida SouthWestern State College, Fort Myers

#50: Santa Fe College, Gainesville

#118: University of South Florida, St. Petersburg

#130: University of West Florida, Pensacola

#201: Florida A&M University, Tallahassee

#207: University of North Florida, Jacksonville

#258: University of Central Florida, Orlando

#265: Tallahassee Community College, Tallahassee

#271: University of Florida, Gainesville

#313: Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers

#316: Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton

#338: Pensacola State College, Pensacola

#342: Florida International University, Miami

#382: University of South Florida, Tampa

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