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Clues to Campus Crime Reports

UNDER THE Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, U.S. colleges and universities must warn their communities of threats in a “timely” fashion, make campus security policies available, and collect, report, and distribute crime data. The ramifications of failing to carry out the law correctly can be severe: a West Virginia university was recently fined $200,000 for, among other shortcomings, failing to report more than 80 crimes.

Institutions that want to avoid such problems can now turn to The Handbook for Campus Crime Reporting, a 200-page document produced by the Department of Education.

The guide helps school’s understand the requirements of the Clery Act. For example, the book explains that some non-campus areas fall within the sweep of the law. University-owned hospitals, publicly owned athletic stadiums leased by the institution, and student residential facilities located away from the campus but still owned or controlled by the institution are all among the non-campus properties covered.

Institutions need not, however, report crimes that occur off campus on land where an elementary, middle, or high school is located. It need not report crimes there because the school “is not used for your institution's educational purposes.” Nor must institutions report crimes at apartments that it owns as long as they are not rented to students.

The guide wends its way through such detail on various other elements of compliance, including how to determine which incidents must be reported and how, when, and where to collect crime data; what to write in crime logs; and what constitutes “timely” notice of a threat to the campus.