Trespassing decreases on campus

According to the Youngstown State University Police Department’s crime and location database, 27 trespass warnings and four criminal trespassing citations were issued this year as of Wednesday.

These numbers are down from previous years.

In 2011, 59 warnings and 11 citations were issued. In 2010, 74 warnings and eight citations were given, while, in 2009, 82 warnings and 11 citations were issued.

A trespass warning is classified as a written ticket documenting the encounter, which is then put into the Automated Records Management System, or ARMS.

Under the Ohio Revised Code, no person shall knowingly enter or remain on the land or premises of another.

“When a person is issued a trespass citation, they are actually under arrest,” said YSU Police Chief John Beshara. “This may lead to just the issuance of the ticket or could possibly lead to jail. All situations are different, requiring officers to have discretion as to what transpires.”

In a recent incident, a red semi cab with Michigan plates was parked in the M-3 parking lot on campus. University police officers issued the driver and passenger trespass warnings, and the passenger was also placed under arrest for consumption of an alcoholic beverage while inside a motor vehicle.

In another recent incident, YSU Police observed a man in the inner core of campus, soliciting funds for a church. Police found nothing to prove the legitimacy of his fundraising and, upon running his information through YSU dispatch, found that the man was issued a trespass warning in 2009. The subject was issued another trespass warning and escorted off campus.

Beshara acknowledged that people criminally trespass on campus, but added that it isn’t a big problem. He stressed that not every person who is walking through campus is trespassing.

“It’s a public university; it’s open to the public,” Beshara said.

“Generally, when we get involved, we see something that doesn’t appear right.”

Although the department doesn’t have an officer whose sole duty is to patrol the campus for trespassers, Beshara referred to doing so as a “daily job that any and all of us do.”

“Our officers are actively patrolling the university and do a great job of keeping an eye out for things that don’t appear normal,” Beshara said.

Beshara said the police talk to everyone and that, through their career, police officers learn how to read people.

“Communication is one of the best tools a police officer can have,” Beshara said.

While talking with people is important, “actions speak louder than words,” Beshara said.

“In policing, you learn to read people’s movements and actions as to what type of encounter you may have,” he said.

According to police reports, trespassing occurs more frequently in the inner core of campus and in parking lots.

But Beshara added that criminal trespassing could occur anywhere. If officers see something going on, or see a person in a questionable area, then they confront that person.

“We then ask the person for their name and for their reasoning of being there, and, usually, they’re cooperative. If the info is credible, then both sides are on their way,” Beshara said.

The police run the person’s information through the Law Enforcement Automated Data System to check for prior violations.

First-time offenders’ names are documented so that they “understand that a further violation will result in prosecution by Youngstown State University.”

ARMS tracks the interaction that the police department has with a certain individual. Beshara estimated that 500 names have been entered into ARMS in regards to trespass incidents.

“It’s similar to a BMV system with motor vehicles,” Beshara said.

Multiple offenders who have a record in ARMS are issued a written citation for criminal trespassing and can also be issued a date to appear in Youngstown Municipal Court.

If students see someone suspicious on campus, authorities advise that they contact YSU Police at 330-941-3527.

“Hopefully, they have our number saved. But, if not, there are a number of emergency phones throughout campus,” Beshara said.

While patrolling is the best way to enforce trespassing, Beshara said he doesn’t see a need to have a public university fenced in.

“In my opinion, the campus has to be open. People should come to the university and be a part of it,” Beshara said.