Crime is dropping in Waco, but don’t let your guard do the same

Gwen Henry | Cartoonist

By The Editorial Board

We’ve all seen stories of muggings, kidnappings and robberies near campus. Scared out of their minds, parents make posts on social media warning of the dangers of Waco. Inevitably, the same screenshots get passed around to students, who then feel fearful when walking home at night or venturing to the other side of Interstate 35.

But despite what your mom’s Facebook feed might be saying, crime rates are actually down in Waco. According to the Waco Police Department, in the first quarter of 2023, robbery offenses decreased by about 17% compared to the first quarter of 2022, while crimes against persons — homicide, manslaughter, assault and sex offenses — decreased by 6% overall.

That said, crime rates in Waco are not zero. You should remain vigilant when it comes to your safety, but that doesn’t mean you should live in fear or hesitate to leave your residence hall or apartment to explore Waco.

The important thing to remember when reading about crime is to differentiate credible sources from stories that may have been run through the rumor mill a few times. For instance, an alleged kidnapping on Ninth Street last fall was determined to have been unfounded.

Another tip would be to make sure you aren’t relying on only one source. Try to find reputable news outlets reporting on a crime story that you’ve been sent. Don’t take a Facebook screenshot for the gospel.

Watch out for fearmongering. It isn’t hard to stir up the well-meaning worry of Baylor parents, and this often causes students to live in fear of what might happen to them while living in Waco. While it’s good to exercise caution, you shouldn’t have to spend four years at Baylor wondering if you’ll be the next victim of a crime.

Nonetheless, whether you’re on or off campus, make sure you take precautions to ensure your safety.

The “Baylor bubble” may seem safer than off-campus locations, but that doesn’t mean that you should tune out your surroundings when you walk at night. Baylor has emergency BUPD blue light poles installed across campus, and these can be used to call a police officer to the site at a moment’s notice if you ever feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Baylor also offers the BU Campus Guardian app, which “can turn your smartphone into a personal safety device.”

Take note of Baylor-specific guidance on which self-defense tools are allowed on campus. Pepper spray is allowed on campus, but it is prohibited in residence halls. Those living off campus should consider purchasing pepper spray to carry with them when walking back home after sunset or being out and about at night.

Even when crime rates are down, your safety is always the first priority. Make sure you take it seriously and stay vigilant about your well-being.