Last week the news was dominated by the release of the Freeh Report. This report was commissioned by Penn State University to look into the scandal surrounding former Penn State coach and convicted child rapist Jerry Sandusky and the Penn State's handling of the whole sordid affair.
I snagged a copy of the Freeh Report after it was published and the part I want to touch on here is the issue of Penn State's failure to abide by the Clery Act. This federal law requires colleges and universities to report and publish information about crimes occurring on campus. At the police department where I work we regularly get requests from our local colleges who are looking for crime information that are reported on satellite campuses out in our sleepy little burg and not on the main campus itself which has it's own police department.
The Freeh Report devotes an entire chapter to the problems with Penn State's compliance with the Clery Act. In Mr. Freeh's remarks at the press conference where he announced the release of the report he puts it this way:
As you will read in our report, Penn State failed to implement the provisions of the Clery Act, a 1990 federal law that requires the collecting and reporting of the crimes such as Sandusky committed on campus in 2001. Indeed, on the day Sandusky was arrested, Penn State’s Clery Act implementation plan was still in draft form. Mr. Spanier said that he and the Board never even had a discussion about the Clery Act until November 2011.Another thing I found interesting is that in the US Department of Education's The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting they specifically indicate that certain persons they call Campus Security Authorities or CSA'a are required to report crimes brought to their attention to comply with the Clery Act. Under the section giving examples of persons required to report they list:
A director of athletics, a team coach or a faculty advisor to a student group.In this instance, the late Penn State coach Joe Paterno meets the definition of CSA and would be required to report crimes brought to his attention in keeping with the Clery Act. It also appears that others involved in the apparent coverup at Penn State would also meet the definition of CSA and would also be required to report crimes to comply with the Clery Act.
I have a sneaking suspicion that worried college and university administrators all across the country are reviewing their own Clery Act compliance after the release of the Freeh Report. This is probably a good thing. Crime statistics are only useful if they are reasonably accurate.