Campus security data available, but incomplete
On March 17, the UVU Police Department released an overdue 2009 Campus Security Report. The document, mandated by a federal law known as the Clery Act, contains campus crime statistics from 2006 to 2008. It also serves as a safety manual for the campus community, containing practical and preventative information.
The report indicates that in the 2006-2008 calendar years, there was one forcible sex offense, seven non-forcible sex offenses, nine aggravated assaults, 30 burglaries and one motor vehicle theft on and directly around university campuses. In addition, there were 55 drug and liquor law violation arrests and three illegal weapons cases. There were no hate crimes.
One murder was also reported on university-owned residential property. The 2006 incident did not involve UVU students, according to Police Chief John Brewer.
The Clery Act informs the public about major crimes, helping students choose safe campuses and protect themselves from becoming crime victims. The initiative was named after Jeanne Clery, a Lehigh University freshman who was tortured, raped and murdered in her dorm room.
After Clery’s murder, “her family and police learned about hundreds and later thousands of cases in which justice did not occur for a lot of victims,” said Jonathan Kassa, executive director of Security on Campus, Inc. “In many cases, they found that crucial information was not shared with the campus community.”
The efforts of the Clery family and Security on Campus helped pass the Clery Act.
One reason why Clery Act compliance has not been enforced in the past may be a lack of consequences. Although each separate violation can result in a $27,500 fine and a suspension of participation in federal financial aid programs, ABC News reports that from 1990 to 2003 only three schools were cited by the Department of Education.
It may be time to shape up. According to Lt. Arnold Lemmon with the BYU Police Department, randomized audits are being conducted. Although the Department of Education has not answered requests to confirm this, the University of Utah Police Department stated that they were the subject of such an audit.
The results of an audit could be detrimental to UVU. An investigation by UVU Review found multiple Clery Act violations. These include the 2009 Campus Security Report being available nearly six months late, not having a report available in previous years, failure to notify the campus community of the report’s availability, data not being separated by campus, incomplete data collection, lost data and significantly lower numbers of crime actually being reported to the Department of Education.
Although UVU has a history of failure to comply with Clery Act regulations, the Police Department is trying to remedy that.
“[The current report] is kind of a cut-and-paste of a lot of different documents from all over the place… with the statistics at the bottom,” Chief Brewer said.
He explained that changing record management systems was responsible for a loss of data, but that they expect to be in full compliance in the future.
But beyond statistics, fines and penalties, university communities need to be informed about crimes in order to protect themselves from becoming victims.
“The more information [students] have, the better judgment calls they can make about how to conduct their lives up here on campus,” Sgt. Michael McPharlin of the University of Utah Police Department said. He explained that if a specific crime were occurring repeatedly in an area, knowing about it would allow potential victims to modify their behaviors.
A barrier to understanding how crime affects students is underreporting. Using UVU enrollment statistics and figures from the U.S. Department of Justice, it is likely that 437 female UVU students may have been raped in 2009. This presents a large discrepancy from the one forcible sexual offense that the police department has on record for a three-year span. It should be noted that location is a deciding factor on whether a crime is included in the security report.
While crime data is incomplete for UVU, Orem is considered a safe place to live. According to CQ Press, the city crime rate is 65 percent below the national average.