Our audit of the crime statistics and campus security policies compiled and reported by six California institutions highlighted the following:
- None of the institutions we reviewed fully complied with the Clery Act and federal regulations.
- Four institutions reported a significant number of inaccurate crime statistics.
- Of the two institutions that reported no criminal offenses, one failed to report all Clery Act crimes.
- Five institutions failed to fully disclose all of the information that the Clery Act and federal regulations require—a number of the missing disclosures were for policies related to the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.
- The daily crime logs for five of the six institutions were incomplete or not updated.
- Although the systemwide offices for the State’s public institutions have undertaken efforts to increase institutions’ compliance with the Clery Act, two systemwide offices need to develop more specific direction for their institutions.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the issue of campus safety is a significant concern to many students and their families when choosing postsecondary educational institutions (institutions). To help inform students and their families about campus safety, the federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act) requires all institutions that participate in federal student aid programs under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to publish annual security reports disclosing specified campus crime statistics and campus security policies. The Clery Act requires these institutions to report statistics related to certain crimes, which include criminal homicides, sex offenses, robberies, and aggravated assaults, as well as to disclose or have in place a number of policies that address in part how they will respond to and prevent crimes. The Education Code requires the California State Auditor to audit every three years at least six institutions that receive federal student aid to evaluate their compliance with the Clery Act. We selected six institutions and performed audit work related to the accuracy of the crime statistics they reported and the completeness of their disclosures of campus security policies. This report draws the following conclusions:
Four Institutions Did Not Accurately Report Their Crime Statistics
Azusa Pacific University (Azusa), Bakersfield College (Bakersfield), Humboldt State University (Humboldt State), and San José State University (San José State) reported criminal offenses in their 2016 Clery Act crime statistics, but none fully complied with the requirements of the Clery Act and federal regulations. Although the institutions stated that they reviewed the accuracy of their crime statistics and adhered to Clery Act guidance before reporting them, they still had a number of errors in their 2016 annual security reports. These errors included 11 Clery Act crimes that the institutions did not report (underreporting), 25 crimes that they incorrectly reported as Clery Act crimes (overreporting), and six Clery Act crimes that they categorized incorrectly (misreporting). With the exception of Azusa, these institutions did not maintain written procedures that clearly outlined their review processes. Specifically, Bakersfield, Humboldt State, and San José State lacked adequate procedures to count their Clery Act crimes and to review the accuracy of those crime statistics. Azusa, on the other hand, had detailed procedures in place, although we found that it misinterpreted some Clery Act guidance.
Of the Two Institutions That Reported No Criminal Offenses, One Failed to Report All Clery Act Crimes
Two of the six institutions we reviewed did not report any criminal offenses in 2015 but are located in cities with significant numbers of crimes. When we reviewed these institutions to determine whether they should have reported any crimes under the Clery Act, we found that West Los Angeles College (West LA) accurately reported that it had no criminal offenses in 2015. However, Berkeley City College failed to report two Clery Act crimes that year because of a miscommunication with the local police department. Its agreement with the police department was outdated and did not outline in detail the process for requesting crime statistics.
Five of the Six Institutions We Reviewed Failed to Develop or Disclose All Required Policies
We identified 58 disclosures covering a wide range of topics and specific security policies that the Clery Act and federal regulations require institutions to have in place and, in most instances, include in their annual security reports. When we reviewed the six institutions’ 2017 annual security reports, we found that only Azusa fully disclosed all of the information that the Clery Act and federal regulations require. The five other institutions did not fully disclose all required information. For example, all five failed to disclose fully one or more policies regarding campus sex offense programs and procedures. We found that these institutions did not always follow guidance on the Clery Act and relied on incomplete templates to create their annual security reports. In addition, the institutions attributed their lack of compliance to insufficient Clery Act expertise, insufficient training, or oversight.
Five of the Six Institutions We Reviewed Did Not Have Complete or Updated Daily Crime Logs
The Clery Act requires institutions with campus police or security departments to maintain and make available to the public written daily logs of all crimes reported to them. However, our review of the six institutions’ daily crime logs found that Azusa, San José State, and West LA did not include all crime reports to which they responded. In addition, Bakersfield, Berkeley City College, and San José State did not update their logs to include crime reports they obtained from local police departments, as the Clery Act requires. All five of these institutions lack detailed procedures for maintaining their daily crime logs, including review processes to ensure the completeness of their crime logs.
To Fully Implement Our 2015 Recommendations, Two Systemwide Offices Need to Improve Certain Aspects of Their Guidance
Our July 2015 report regarding institutions’ compliance with the Clery Act concluded that without additional guidance, institutions might continue to report inaccurate crime statistics or fail to adequately disclose security policies in their annual security reports. Therefore, we recommended that the systemwide offices that oversee public institutions in the State issue guidance. In response, the California State University’s Office of the Chancellor (CSU Chancellor’s Office), the University of California Office of the President (UCOP), and the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office) issued such Clery Act guidance. Specifically, the CSU Chancellor’s Office issued a 2017 executive order that provides strong guidance to its institutions; however, that guidance needs some improvement related to maintaining daily crime logs. Similarly, UCOP recently implemented a systemwide Clery Act policy, but the policy provides only limited guidance to ensure institutions include the required security disclosures. Finally, the Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office also only recently implemented its policy, although it contains sufficient guidance to prevent the types of errors we previously identified.
Summary of Recommendations
The four institutions that overreported or misreported their crime statistics should develop or strengthen procedures by August 2018 to review and adhere to applicable guidance related to the Clery Act when categorizing the Clery Act crimes they report. In addition, Bakersfield, Humboldt State, and San José State should create written procedures by August 2018 that clearly describe the Clery Act crime identification process they will follow to ensure that they do not underreport crime statistics in their annual security reports. Further, Berkeley City College should update its agreement with the Berkeley police department by August 2018 to ensure that it outlines the process for compiling crime statistics and defines the responsibilities of both parties.
To ensure that they develop and disclose all required policies as the Clery Act and federal regulations require, Bakersfield, Berkeley City College, Humboldt State, San José State, and West LA should review and adhere to applicable guidance related to the Clery Act. In addition, Azusa, Bakersfield, Berkeley City College, San José State, and West LA should implement detailed procedures by December 2018 for maintaining their daily crime logs to ensure that they are complete and up to date.
By August 2018, the CSU Chancellor’s Office and UCOP should fully implement the recommendations we made in our July 2015 report. Specifically, the CSU Chancellor’s Office should provide more guidance to its institutions regarding their maintenance of their daily crime logs, and UCOP should include in its policy more detail regarding annual security report disclosures.
All but one of the six institutions agreed with our recommendations. Azusa disagreed with our specific recommendations pertaining to it, raised concerns with some of our conclusions, and asserted that it has already taken action in other areas. Additionally, the CSU Chancellor’s Office, UCOP, and the three community college districts we reviewed agreed with our recommendations.