High instance of juvenile crime affects TCU community

J.C. Williams, the assistant chief of the TCU Police Department, said TCU does not have a problem with fights at football games.”TCU’s events are so much larger than high school events,” Williams said. “Our resources and police presence are so strong. A lot of your public schools can’t really afford the resources necessary to cover parking lots, as well as inside and outside the stadiums, and control those areas the way we can.”

Williams also said the inaccessibility of many of the parking lots at TCU keep fights and other criminal activity from occurring near the stadium.

“We have donor parking, which sometimes costs $1,000 to $5,000 a space, and they’re all restricted access parking lots,” he said. “In TCU’s case, those parking lots are located right around the stadium itself, so we’ve got gate attendants and you have to have a pass to actually get into many of the lots that surround TCU during the event.”

Even with a large number of high school students from across the city attending TCU sporting events, especially football games, Williams said, the university has not had any problems with fights or criminal mischief associated with the high school students’ attendance.

“I don’t know if it’s because of the environment they’re in, but we just haven’t had incidences related to them,” Williams said. “When you have older college students there, younger high school students tend to be on better behavior for some reason, maybe because they want to look cool or they don’t want to seem immature. We haven’t had them cause any conflicts with our students.”

The biggest problem associated with sporting events at TCU does not involve high school students at all. That problem is underage drinking, especially in conjunction with student tailgating, Williams said.

This year, in an attempt to decrease the amount of alcohol violations associated with tailgating, TCU established the first university-sponsored student tailgate party before the first home game against Utah on Sept. 15.

“Last year, we’d have anywhere from 10 to 20 citations issued during one game. This year, it’s already dramatically fewer alcohol violations,” he said. “We may only have a couple from the first game this year. The way we’ve structured the tailgating made a difference for us.”

This variety of juvenile criminal activity is not confined to juvenile settings such as high school sporting events.

J.C. Williams, the assistant chief of the TCU Police Department, said there is a problem with students from Paschal skipping school and coming onto the TCU campus to break into vehicles.

Williams said students from Paschal have “definitely been a problem” due to the close proximity of the high school’s campus to the TCU campus.

“Some of them have been arrested more than once, two or three times, for misdemeanor crimes like burglary of motor vehicles,” Williams said. “It’s really made us look at fencing and security in different peripheral parking lots around the campus.”

When this reporter called Paschal High School for response, she was directed to McGhee, who indicated there had been no problems with Paschal.

Williams said that, in response to the vandalism and burglaries, TCU has had to change its parking lot structure, including plans to convert the Sav-On lot on Berry Street into a parking lot for commuter students that will be entirely fenced in with a security guard on location. Shuttle service will run to and from the lot. Such changes are a direct result of this type of campus crime, which is the second most predominant crime on campus and primarily committed by juveniles, namely Paschal students, Williams said.

“Burglary of motor vehicles is pretty much a juvenile crime,” he said.

Motor vehicle theft often provides quick cash for after-market stereos and other items. Juveniles also tend to target chrome wheels and other amenities, so they are the ones committing those types of crime, Williams said.

Cars in college campus parking lots also tend to have backpacks, cell phones, pagers, etc., he said. They tend to have a little bit more money than local high school parking lots. Juveniles predisposed to commit crimes are looking for crimes of opportunity, so college parking lots with their vast amount of goodies provide a good location for them.

Williams also said burglary of motor vehicles is primarily a juvenile crime because there is very little deterrent. Though TCU only has about two or three arrests a year, Williams said, the penalties for juveniles are much less than for adults. Burglary of a motor vehicle, previously a felony, has been reduced to a misdemeanor, making it difficult to address this type of juvenile crime, he said.

Many times offenders are taken into custody and then returned to their parents. Even when sent to a detention center, Williams said, the juvenile may spend a few hours there before then being released to the care of a parent or guardian, whereas an adult will receive hard, long-term sentences.

Unlike high school sporting events, juveniles arrested at TCU rarely enter that revolving door as a result of activity taking place at sporting events.

“Burglaries of motor vehicles don’t necessarily take place on game days, but when school might normally be in session,” Williams said. “That is the time when juveniles are truant and when we have the most vehicles on campus. Commuters and others are all on campus in all the lots.”

Fighting is also not a common issue at TCU sporting events, which Williams credits to the extensive police details at football games.