UW police chief: Social media a major contributor to stalking incidents on campus



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CHEYENNE, Wyoming — The inappropriate use of social media is a major contributor to increasing stalking incidents on the University of Wyoming campus, UW Police Chief Mike Samp said.

UW recorded 10 stalking incidents in 2013, the first year colleges have been required to track the crime.

"The stalking is a crime that we're seeing more and more of, particularly the increased use of social media as well as other electronic means, texting, that sort of behavior," Samp said.

Samp said the stalking involved a variety of situations, including non-students off campus stalking students, faculty and staff on campus through social media.

UW and other colleges around the country also began tracking domestic violence incidents for the first time in their annual campus crime reports.

UW, the state's only four-year public university, recorded six domestic violence cases in 2013.

"We do have residence apartments where people live in close proximity to each other as well as some family apartments out in that area," Samp said.

Samp said the university has been working for years with advocacy groups on campus and throughout the Laramie community to address domestic violence and help victims of the crime.

Regarding UW's annual crime report overall, Samp noted increases in sexual assaults and drug and alcohol violations last year.

UW recorded 15 sexual assaults last year, compared to five in 2012 and seven in 2011.

According to UW's STOP Violence Program, which provides support and information on sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking, the number of students seeking services has more than doubled over the last few years.

"The sexual assaults were, I hope, related to our increased efforts in the area of providing reporting mechanisms, making sure that victims on campus know the numerous resources we have here on campus and are able to access them readily and make reports and get the services that they need," Samp said.

The number of alcohol arrests on campus jumped from 158 in 2012 to 246 in 2013, and drug arrests more than doubled from 31 to 64.

Samp attributed the increase in drug arrests to neighboring Colorado legalizing the sale of marijuana while he said alcohol arrests can vary year to year based on many factors, including big athletic events and weather.

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