The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

St. John’s President Responds To Campus Safety Concerns: “We’re In Queens”

A St. John’s University Public Safety vehicle on the Queens campus’ residence village.
Torch Photo / Brady Snyder

New Yorkers are worried about a growing crime rate within the five boroughs: a 2022 Spectrum News and Siena College poll found 76 percent of city residents are concerned they could become the victim of a violent crime. Amid the troubling crime rate, St. John’s University President Brian Shanley says the school is doing everything it can while being located in a tricky environment. 

The University experienced a few high-profile incidents in the Fall 2022 semester, including a series of thefts in the School of Law and three catalytic converters stolen from parked cars, per the Department of Public Safety. 

“With the Law School, where there was a lot of theft, we [now require] card access to get into the building, and I think that has helped,” Shanley said in an interview with The Torch. “You know, the catalytic converters, that happens everywhere.”

University spokesperson Brian Browne told The Torch in October 2022 that one of the individuals responsible for thefts in the Law School was arrested on Sept. 12, 2022 and charged by the NYPD. The other individual was tentatively identified by Public Safety and the NYPD conducted an investigation. At the time, Browne said additional security measures — including increased patrols by Public Safety — were being implemented.

Crime on the University’s Queens campus slowed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but increased in 2021. The number of reported incidents is still lower than pre-pandemic figures, according to the University’s 2022 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report. The report is required by federal law to be released yearly and includes data from the past three years. Data from 2022 has not yet been released.

“We’re in Queens, [and] we’re in an urban campus,” Shanley said. “Although we have walls, we’re a relatively open campus. You can come in and on campus without necessarily showing an ID, so I think Public Safety does a pretty good job.”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams touched on the rising crime rates in his 2023 State of the City address on Thursday, Jan. 26. “No one should be in jail simply because they cannot afford to post bail,” Adams said during the address, as reported by the New York Daily News. “But we should also agree that we cannot allow a small number of violent individuals to continue terrorizing our neighborhoods over and over again.”

The University’s Queens campus saw a total of 158 on-campus criminal offenses in 2021, with liquor and drug law violations accounting for 143 of those incidents, according to the security report.

“We’re doing what we can,” Shanley concluded. “But I don’t know what we could do more than what we’re doing.”

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About the Contributor
Brady Snyder, Editor-in-Chief
Brady is a senior journalism student currently serving as Editor-in-Chief. He joined The Torch in 2021, and previously served as Sports Editor. Outside of The Torch, Brady covers consumer technology and new innovations for ScreenRant, where he has nearly 100 published articles. When he isn’t writing, Brady is usually running or catching a sporting event. Brady can be reached at [email protected]

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