Clery not adequate

By By Alicia Williams

By Alicia Williams

Connie Clery wrote a commentary Oct. 1 titled “A loving tribute: Safe colleges,” where she celebrates the successful achievement of 20 years of hard, dedicated efforts of both her and her recently deceased husband, Howard Clery, to establish Security On Campus Inc.8212;a nonprofit organization committed to making campuses safe for students.

Their efforts were not only on behalf of their daughter, Jeanne Clery, who was brutally tortured, raped and murdered in a dorm at Lehigh University in 1986, but also for the many victims of campus crimes and their families. Clery said it started with petitions and public speaking and eventually led them to Washington, where Congress passed the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act in 1990.

“Commonly known as the Clery Act, the law requires all colleges and universities that receive federal aid to disclose information about campus crime and security policies,” Clery said. “Campus crime statistics are an important resource that campus communities and their prospective members can use to gauge safety and take steps to avoid and prevent campus crime.”

The U police department is striving to meet the numerous demands of the Clery Act. The Department of Public Safety Web site offers the required safety and crime reports as well as the campus crime statistics. At first glance everything looks to be in order, except for the obvious, gigantic discrepancy in the campus theft category8212;of which potential U students and their parents would have no knowledge.

Basically, the Clery Act only requires the reporting of three types of theft: robbery, burglary and vehicle, but leaves out larceny, which is the U’s largest offense. It’s the responsibility of campus police to sort and categorize the 1,555 reports of theft on campus for the past three years, but most are labeled “theft property” and only 178 are reported in the required crime statistics, leaving 1,377 unaccounted for.

After reading the 216-page Handbook for Campus Crime Reporting by the U.S. Department of Education 2005, I can sympathize with U Police Department Chief Scott Folsom, who oversees the management and reporting of campus crimes for the Clery Act. Folsom recently told The Daily Utah Chronicle the Clery Act was created with crimes against people in mind and not intended to report crimes against property. However, S. Daniel Carter, the director of Public Policy at Security on Campus Inc., said that is not the case.

Carter said the Clery Act applies to all institutions from your small, storefront beauty college to the four-year major universities and so far, the smaller ones have been successful at persuading Congress not to require the reporting of more numerous and less serious crimes.

“We have tried twice to have larceny theft included and it has been rejected,” Carter said. “It was recently added this year for hate crimes, interesting enough, but not generally. It is our position that we believe it (larceny theft) should be included and that is the position we have taken for 20 years.”

Priority is placed on serious crimes such as burglary where there is a greater potential for threat or harm to a person. However, Carter said that if a crime is reported to the police or security department on campus it should be listed in the public crime log. The Clery Act explicitly requires this so that the community can get all the facts and crime logs that are more timely than the annual statistic.

To obtain an accurate understanding of all the crimes committed on campus, we need to be able to view the daily public crime logs alongside the Clery Act statistics, which are already displayed on the Web site. Currently, the only way to view the U’s public crime log is to physically visit the department of public safety.

Capt. Lynn Mitchell said the department is in the process of trying to get the logs on the campus Web page. He said until recently, they were reporting to crimereports.com to help students be aware of the types of crimes committed on campus and where they were occurring.

“We’ve been reporting our crimes up until November 14 and if you go to crimereport(s).com you can see our crimes on there,” Mitchell said. “My hope is that I can put in a little more information than just saying “theft property’8212;that I can also, on our Web page, put maybe what happened, like there was a laptop taken from a backpack.”

The U Police are not trying to keep the numerous amounts of thefts occurring on campus a secret. The required Clery statistics themselves do not accurately report the prevalent theft problem on campus. Campus police have identified the need for additional information on the Web site, but they just need time to get the sites into place and functioning properly.

Thankfully, the major portion of campus thefts do not involve serious threats to harm people. However, increased public knowledge is the key to prevention.

[email protected]

Alicia Williams