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University of Akron off-campus shooting prompts new student-led 'Criminal Nuisance Project' to help research, prevent crime

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Posted at 7:25 AM, Mar 31, 2022

AKRON, Ohio — Inside a University of Akron classroom, a handful of students already studying criminal intelligence analysis, examine 2020 crime data to help police better understand and respond to crime patterns.

They’re a part of a new project called the Criminal Nuisance Project.

“I really like this class. I like the setup of it,” said University of Akron junior, Emily Starkey.

The project was created by associate professor of criminal justice, Stephanie Yuhas.

“I wanted to get students involved because we have students in criminal justice that actually do the things that we need to do as part of the project,” said Yuhas. “They're going to help make the campus and the area around campus safer.”

Yuhas is also a former magistrate in the Akron municipal court. She says the project came about the day she was asked to lead the city's housing safety project.

“Typically, when you do research, there's a whole lot of groundwork that takes place. But this needed to happen quickly because it's important for us to address safety in that area.”

The area Yuhas referred to is the same area, south of exchange street, where an 18-year-old student was killed after a shooting during a party in September. Starkey lives nearby.

“I think it gets a bad rap, but honestly, I think we're trying to figure out that if it's somewhere that students prefer to be,” Starkey explained. “So, getting a survey out to the student body is really going to help let the university know what students are feeling because they're the ones that are impacted the most.”

Through their research, students like Starkey are helping prevent crimes while also educating student tenants and landlords on their rights and responsibility to help fight crime. After all, police can crack down on problem properties with fines and more.

“This could be something we use citywide in order to identify properties and make the entire city safer for people,” said Yuhas.

The criminal course ends in May with some of the students graduating. There will be more research needed in the future. Yuhas says the plan is to continue the project with a new group of students next semester.