Report 2006-032 Summary - January 2007
California's Postsecondary Educational Institutions:
Stricter Controls and Greater Oversight Would Increase the Accuracy of Crime Statistics Reporting
Our review of California's postsecondary educational institutions' compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act), revealed the following:
- One institution did not correctly convert crimes defined in California law to crimes the Clery Act requires to be reported in the annual security report.
- Institutions did not review some potentially reportable crimes to determine if they are reportable under the Clery Act.
- Institutions did not correctly identify all reportable locations.
- Institutions have not established a written policy or procedure for some of the items described in their annual reports.
- The California Postsecondary Education Commission does not ensure that the links that it provides lead to institutions' statistics.
RESULTS IN BRIEF
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act) requires eligible postsecondary educational institutions (institutions) to report crime statistics annually in accordance with the definitions used in the Uniform Crime Reporting Program of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. However, some crimes defined in California law are different from those defined by the Uniform Crime Reporting Program, and often institutions must review individual crimes to determine whether they are reportable under the Clery Act. One of the six institutions we reviewed did not correctly convert crimes defined in California law to crimes the Clery Act requires institutions to report in their annual security reports (annual reports), and four institutions either did not review or did not correctly report some crimes in potentially reportable categories.
The Clery Act also requires institutions to report the statistics for crimes committed in certain geographic locations associated with the campus in their annual reports. Each crime must be classified as occurring on the campus, in a residence hall, in or on certain noncampus buildings or property, or on specific public property. Although federal regulations provide definitions for these location types, some confusion existed in the past over the practical application of the various definitions. To give institutions additional guidance in applying the definitions, the U.S. Department of Education (Education) published a handbook in June 2005. The handbook included specific examples detailing how to classify various locations. Nevertheless, five of the institutions we reviewed did not correctly identify all reportable locations in their 2005 annual reports.
In addition, the Clery Act outlines numerous security policies that institutions must disclose in their annual reports, and the handbook published by Education provides guidance on the minimum requirements for specific information that must be included. However, the policies and procedures described in an annual report must accurately reflect the institution's unique security policies, procedures, and practices, and if the institution does not have a required policy, it must disclose that fact. Although they generally disclosed all required information, most of the institutions we reviewed have not established written policies or procedures for some of the items described in their annual reports.
Lastly, state law requires the California Postsecondary Education Commission (commission) to provide a link to the Web site of each California institution containing crime statistics information. To more efficiently meet this directive, the commission provides a link to the statistics collected by Education for each of California's institutions. However, the commission does not ensure that these institutions post such statistics to Education's Web site.
To improve the accuracy and completeness of their data, institutions should do the following:
- Ensure that crimes defined in California law are correctly converted to crimes the Clery Act requires institutions to report in their annual reports.
- Establish procedures to identify crimes defined in California law that cannot be directly converted to reportable crimes and ensure that additional steps are taken to determine if a crime is reportable.
- Establish procedures to accurately identify all campus, noncampus, and public property locations and report all associated crimes.
To ensure full compliance with the Clery Act, each institution should establish a body of comprehensive policies that support all disclosures made in their annual report.
To ensure that its Web site contains a link to all institutions' crime statistics, the commission should continue with its plan to test the validity of its links.
American River College; California State University, Long Beach; and the commission generally agreed with our findings. However, the University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley); Leland Stanford Junior University (Stanford); University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); and the University of Southern California (USC) did not agree with all of our findings. Specifically, Berkeley disagreed with our finding that its definitions of public property were inconsistent with the Clery Act. Stanford and USC disagreed with our classification of university properties. USC and UCLA disagreed with the number of reportable crimes we identified. Finally, all six institutions and the commission generally agreed with our recommendations and plan to take specific actions to address them.