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Report of the Clery Act Task Force
University of California's reply
to a series of inquiries from the federal Department of Education on compliance with the Clery Act, governing crime reporting on campuses.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE



Friday April 13, 2001

Contact: Charles McFadden
(510) 987-9193
charles.mcfadden@ucop.edu

NO DELIBERATE UNDER-REPORTING OF CAMPUS CRIME STATISTICS, BUT METHODOLOGY NEEDS TIGHTENING, UC TASK FORCE REPORTS; RECOMMENDATIONS TO BE SHARED NATIONALLY

University of California campuses should make a number of adjustments to improve how they keep and report crime statistics, but there has been no deliberate under-reporting of crime, a systemwide task force has concluded in a report released today.

The task force said there were even some instances of campuses over-reporting crimes.

UC's task force was formed on Sept. 28, 2000 by Joseph Mullinix, UC senior vice president for business and finance, to review how well campuses were complying with the federal Clery Act. That law sets forth requirements on how campus crime statistics should be kept and classified, along with requirements that students, staff and faculty be kept informed of the availability of crime statistics. The act was named in memory of Jeanne Clery, a Lehigh University student who was raped and murdered on campus in 1986.

The task force received an independent assessment of campus compliance from Dolores A. Stafford, the police chief of The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Chief Stafford is a nationally recognized expert on campus crime reporting.

Mullinix said the task force's work was valuable and should be shared nationwide.

"The task force's work represents the most comprehensive and systematic look at compliance with the Clery Act undertaken by any major university," Mullinix said. "While the task force's report concentrates on compliance within the UC system, campus crime is not confined to any single campus, or university system, or state. We therefore will make the report available to other campuses nationally in the hope that it might prove useful to them."

"This report from the University of California will be enormously helpful to colleges and universities nationwide," said Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education. "No other college or university that we know of has undertaken such a thorough review of compliance with the Clery Act. The provisions of the act are so complex, and the reporting requirements so difficult for campuses to meet, a report like this will prove itself an invaluable guide for other institutions to follow. We are indebted to the UC system for undertaking such an important, and time-consuming effort. This document will be used again and again by colleges, I assure you."

There were several instances of over-reporting cited in the report. At UC Irvine, one category listed 140 liquor law arrests when only 14 were found in the records. At UC Riverside, 73 disciplinary referrals for liquor law violations were reported, but only 65 incidents could be found in the records. At UC Davis, DUI alcohol offense totals were reported when they were not required to be reported.

In a separate action, the university also released today its point-by-point reply to questions raised by a U.S. Department of Education review of Clery Act compliance among UC campuses. In general, the UC reply said while there were instances where campuses had not fully complied with all requirements of the act because of reporting inconsistencies and statistical misclassifications, steps are underway to bring all UC campuses into full compliance.

The problems of misclassifications and reporting inconsistencies were also addressed by the task force, which blamed many campus reporting errors on misinterpretations of Clery Act requirements. In addition, some procedures for disseminating crime data did not meet the act's requirements, again because of misunderstanding or misinterpretation. The report said there were also some instances where lack of resources contributed to the misclassifications.

"There was no evidence that campuses deliberately underreported crime. In fact, some campuses over reported crimes," the task force reported.

One cause of problems, the task force pointed out, is the varying crime definitions contained in the FBI's Uniform Crime Code, the California Penal Code, and the Clery Act itself. Various reporting agencies used different definitions, causing variations in campus crime statistics and non-compliance.

Some of the campus-to-campus inconsistencies the task force uncovered include:

  • Statistics are not always consistent because of the differing crime definitions contained in the FBI's Uniform Crime Code, the California Penal Code, and the Clery Act; for instance, some campuses rely on the California Penal Code definitions, which may differ from the definitions included in the federal Clery Act.

    Some campuses include statistics at all off-campus sites that have university-related functions (such as fraternity or sorority houses or medical clinics) while other campuses do not.

  • Although campuses reported crimes according to U.S. Department of Education definitions, there were variations among campus reports in additional crime categories such as burglary.

  • While all campuses describe extensive safety programs within their written materials and brochures, not all campuses have statements on the complete list of policies required by the Clery Act.

  • There is uneven compliance with Clery Act requirements on notification to prospective staff and faculty of the availability of crime statistics and the campus security report, and human resource offices do not have clear guidance on what type of statement to include in their material.

Among the task force recommendations:

  • The university should develop a method of reconciling the varying crime definitions contained in the FBI's Uniform Crime Code, the California Penal Code, and the Clery Act.

  • The university should develop a uniform format for reporting all UC crime statistics

  • The university should establish a single "clearinghouse" office within systemwide administration to facilitate consistent campus compliance with the Clery Act, and a single, high-level executive should be assigned responsibility for assuring compliance. This office would establish and maintain a central UC website on Clery Act Compliance with links to all campus sites.

  • The university should implement systemwide, comprehensive UC Clery Act compliance guidelines, including "best practices."

  • The university should implement an ongoing training program and information exchange for all campuses.

The eight-member task force included representatives from campus police departments, university administration, student services, legal counsel and public information.

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