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Overview

The Clery Act (officially known as the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Crime Statistics Act) requires colleges and universities, including California community colleges, to record specific campus crime statistics and safety policies for consumer protection. The Clery Act (20 U.S.C. § 1092(f)) is a federal law that requires colleges’ participation as a condition of receiving Title IV student financial assistance programs under the Higher Education Act. 

The crime statistics are included in an annual security report published for prospective and current students and employees to educate any interested consumer on campus and community safety. In addition to publishing an annual security report, colleges and universities are required to publish and update security policies. In 2013, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act amended the Clery Act to include additional crimes to report, such as dating violence, domestic violence and stalking, and required colleges to create and disclose additional security policies.

Policy Statement

The California Community Colleges is the largest postsecondary educational institution in the United States. Choosing a postsecondary educational institution in California is a critical decision for millions of students and families, and the issue of campus and community safety is a factor in that decision.

The California Community College Chancellor’s Office is committed to promoting a safe and secure learning and working environment for all students and employees consistent with the Clery Act and other applicable federal and state laws. Federal law and the Chancellor’s Office Clery Act policy prohibit retaliation against any individual who makes a Clery Act report or request (34 C.F.R. § 668.46(m).). 

Key Personnel

Clery Act Coordinator (Coordinator)

Each college shall designate a coordinator to serve as the lead and contact person for Clery Act inquiries. The coordinator is responsible for Clery Act reporting and compliance, along with collaborating with campus security and/or local law enforcement. Additionally, the coordinator is responsible for ensuring that all Clery Act requirements are accurately reported in a timely manner. These tasks include but are not limited to the following:

  • Submittal of Clery Act data to the U.S. Department of Education by October 1;
  • Publishing the college’s annual security report by October 1;
  • Updating the college’s Clery Act policies and guidelines;
  • Creating a Clery Act compliance team;
  • Gathering and analyzing crime statistics under the Clery Act;
  • Ensuring that a daily crime log is kept in accordance with federal law;
  • Developing campus-specific Clery Act compliance programs or procedures;
  • Coordinating with appropriate staff in response to any state or federal audit;
  • Providing training and guidance to Campus Security Authorities; and
  • Serving as the college’s custodian of record for Clery Act reports and audits.

Campus Security Authority

A Campus Security Authority is an individual at the colleges who has an obligation to notify responsible individuals (e.g. Clery Act coordinator or campus police) of alleged Clery Act crimes for purposes of reporting. These positions commonly include campus police and persons or officials who:

  • Are specified in the college’s annual security report as an individual to whom reportable criminal offenses should be reported;
  • Have responsibility for campus security but who are not employees of a college police department or security department; or
  • Have significant responsibility for student and campus activities, including student discipline and campus judicial proceedings.

Examples of common Campus Security Authority at a local community college may include:

  • Officers from local law enforcement who are contracted to provide campus safety-related service;
  • Deans of students who oversees a student center or student extracurricular activities;
  • Directors of athletics;
  • Athletic coaches, including assistants;
  • Student assistants;
  • Title IX coordinators;
  • Ombudspersons, including student ombudspersons;
  • Directors of a campus health or counseling centers; and
  • Members of emergency response or sexual assault response teams.

Faculty members who do not have responsibility for student and campus life beyond the classroom include professional counselors, clerical staff, and cafeteria staff; however, they are not prohibited from reporting.

Colleges should examine each campus, including satellite campuses, to determine the appropriate Campus Security Authority. The selected individuals should be notified of their responsibilities and annual trainings are encouraged to ensure all new and current campus security authorities are made aware of their reporting requirements and any new laws or policies.

Requirements

Reporting Clery Act Crimes

The Clery Act requires institutions to include statistics related to certain types of crimes that occur in certain locations. The specific crimes that must be reported are commonly referred to as Clery Act crimes. Colleges are required to submit statistics on Clery Act crimes along with an annual security report to the U.S. Department of Education by October 1 of every year.

To better assist educational institutions in determining which crimes are reportable and what constitutes a certain crime, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education released The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting (“OPE Handbook”) as guidance. Colleges should consult the OPE Handbook along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook for legal definitions of Clery Act crimes.

The OPE Handbook breaks down the Clery Act crimes into four general categories: criminal offenses, hate crimes, Violence Against Women Reauthorization offenses, and incidents and arrests that involve disciplinary action. Please refer to the OPE Handbook for a specific list of crimes that fall under each category. Colleges should be aware that all crimes within these four categories are reportable under the Clery Act.

Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act Requirements

The passage of Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act amended the Clery Act to include other crimes related to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The provisions of VAWA took effect on March 7, 2014 and now requires colleges to include policy statements to promote awareness of and prevent the included crimes in the college’s ASR. Moreover, VAWA requires ASR’s to include statistics for reported crimes of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

Clery Geography

The Clery Act requires community colleges to report the four categories of crimes within the following geographical categories:

  • On campus;
  • In or on certain non-campus facilities that are owned or controlled by the college, including student housing facilities; and
  • On public property that is within or immediately adjacent to and accessible from campus, including streets, sidewalks, and parking facilities.
  • Source: 34 Code of Federal Regulation section 668.48(a).

Community colleges with more than one campus, such as satellite or research campuses, should be aware that the Clery Act requires each campus to be identified individually, that is – each campus must identify its own policy statements (if the campus has its own policy statements separate from the rest of the college’s campuses) and must identify crime statistics associated with that individual campus. Colleges may report all campuses on the same ASR, but must specifically distinguish each campus and the reportable crimes and policies associated with that campus. 

Colleges should also annually re-evaluate the buildings and geographical areas under their control. Facilities on campus or buildings that are owned or leased by a college may be easy to identify. However, colleges should be aware that buildings and areas that are reasonably contiguous to the campus should be classified as an “on-campus” location as well.

The OPE Handbook suggests that it is reasonable to consider locations within a one-mile radius of campus borders to be reasonably contiguous to a campus, especially if the location is one that students may frequent. As a result, parking facilities, dining halls, and even a public park across the street would be considered “on-campus” for purposes of reporting if within a mile of campus. 

All other areas outside of campus and outside of the one-mile contiguous area are considered non-campus or public property. This would include public parks outside of a mile of the campus, public transit stops, and public buildings. If a college has off-campus locations where students or organized student activities occur including overnight trips, colleges should consult with local legal counsel on how to properly identify geography for purposes of reporting. 

Daily Crime Logs

Colleges with campus police or campus security departments must maintain written daily crime logs of all reported crimes occurring on campus. These crimes should include both Clery Act and non-Clery Act crimes. 

According to the OPE Handbook, the daily crime logs must be open to public inspection within two business days of the initial report, unless disclosure would violate state or federal law or improperly disclose the confidentiality of the victim. Colleges are encouraged to consult with their local legal counsel if they have any questions or concerns about releasing confidential information. 

Campus Alerts

Colleges are also required to issue a campus alert to the community under certain circumstances. Colleges must issue a timely warning for any known Clery Act crime that represents an ongoing threat to the safety of students or employees. In addition, colleges must issue an emergency notification upon confirmation of a significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or employees on campus.

Colleges are encouraged to incorporate these Clery Act campus alerts into any existing emergency preparedness and/or active shooter plan, and should coordinate with campus security to ensure proper implementation.

Procedures

The Clery Act requires that a coordinator obtain crime statistics from campus security authorities, including campus police or contracted local law enforcement, individuals responsible for campus safety, student and campus activity officials, and any individuals or organizations listed in the college’s security policy as responsible for receiving student and employee reports of criminal offenses. Further, the OPE Handbook states that colleges are required to request crime statistics from local law enforcement agencies, even if the college has on-campus security.

Annual Security Report

Once the coordinator receives the Clery Act crime statistics, the data must be prepared for submission to the U.S. Department of Education along with the college’s annual security report. In addition, the federal regulations specify that every college must distribute its annual security report to all students and employees by October 1 of each year. 

Colleges should present all statistics, except for hate crimes, in a tabular format in the annual security report. Specifically, criminal offenses, Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act offenses, and incidents for disciplinary action should be presented in a table with the following columns: offense, year, and number of times the crime occurred in the geographical locations previously mentioned. Statistics on hate crimes may be presented in tabular format or narrative/descriptive format. 

Colleges are advised to post the annual security report on its website or notify students and employees of its existence via e-mail. Additionally, colleges must notify prospective students and employees of the report, provide a description of the report’s contents, and indicate that the report is available upon request.

Necessary Security Policy Disclosures

In addition to statistics, there are 46 federally mandated policy disclosures required to be included in a college’s annual security report (20 U.S.C. § 1092(g).) These policies range across a wide variety of topics such as the monitoring and recording of criminal activity at off-campus organizations, emergency response and evacuation procedures, and the use and sale of alcohol. 

Furthermore, the passage of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act requires colleges to include an additional 12 policies in every annual security report. The 12 new policy requirements are the most commonly incomplete or missed disclosures. Colleges should update their Clery Act policies to ensure that every required security policy disclosure, including the latest Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act requirements, are included in its annual security report. The updated requirements can be found in 34 Code of Federal Regulations, section 668.46.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if a college fails to comply with the Clery Act?

The U.S. Department of Education may fine a college $35,000 for each violation if a college substantially misrepresents the number, location, or nature of the crimes reported. In addition to the fine, a college’s ability to receive or participate in Title IV programs may be jeopardized.

What are some best practices for determining whether an incident meets all the conditions of a crime?

Colleges are encouraged to employ some type of data system or spreadsheet to keep track of all reportable crimes. Colleges may employ a compliance team that conducts monthly reviews of all incidents that may fall under the purview of the Clery Act. The team should review every incident and refer to the OPE Handbook to ensure crimes are accurately reported. After review, colleges may send the final spreadsheet or data to their local legal counsel and/or campus security for verification. This two-step process may help colleges ensure that crimes are accurately reported and not duplicative.

What if the legal definition of a crime in state law and federal law differ?

For purposes of the Clery Act, colleges must follow the federal definitions in the OPE’s The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting and the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook.

When an incident is reported to a Campus Security Authority, should they determine what type of crime occurred?

No. The OPE Handbook indicates that campus security authorities are not responsible for determining whether a crime occurred. That determination should be made by law enforcement personnel. The campus security authority should report the crime to the Coordinator or campus police.

How should an incident involving multiple crimes be reported?

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook, only the most serious offense committed during a single incident must be reported. The OPE Handbook refers to this as the “Hierarchy Rule.” Colleges should note however, that there are exceptions to this rule. Arson, sexual assaults, hate crimes and Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act offenses are the exceptions. Please consult the OPE Handbook on how to count these specific incidents.

How should a single crime involving more than one victim be reported?

Colleges should refer to the OPE Handbook to avoid over reporting crime statistics. For example, a single robbery involving more than one victim should be reported as one offense instead of three robberies.

What if a college is unable to obtain statistics from local law enforcement?

Local law enforcement are not required to provide colleges with crime statistics. However, colleges are required to make a reasonable, good-faith effort to obtain statistics from law enforcement by making a request.

What should a college do if it discovers a misreported statistic after publishing its annual security report?

If a change to a crime statistic or policy is made after publishing an annual security report, the college should make the change and note that the report was changed. Specifically, the college should notate what change was made, the date of the change, and the reason for the change. The college is then required to redistribute the updated annual security report and provide notice to students and employees of its availability.

How long should colleges retain ASR’s and supporting documents?

Clery Act documents should be retained for three years from the latest publication of the report to which they apply. Records include daily crime logs, any documents to and from local police regarding Clery Act compliance, documents to and from campus security authorities, notices regarding Clery Act, and any documents concerning the annual security report.