Pennsylvania Litigation Blog
Preparing for the Stepped Up CLERY ACT Enforcement
The United States Department of Education (DOE), after years of inactivity, has made it a priority to increase enforcement efforts under the CLERY Act. As a result, the DOE is conducting audits of CLERY Act compliance on a regular basis. This is a good time to revisit CLERY Act compliance and assure that your college has proper procedures in place and documents available to bring an audit to a successful outcome.
There are essentially three requirements of the CLERY Act. First, that a college notify the campus community of its current policies regarding reporting criminal actions or emergencies on campus, security of and access to campus facilities, and campus law enforcement. Second, colleges are required to have certain records and reports. Crimes must be reported to campus security authorities, reports from other law enforcement agencies must be obtained, and for colleges with campus police or security, a daily crime log must be maintained which must include non-CLERY Act crimes. Third, information must be provided to the campus. This includes timely warning of a crime that may threaten students or employees, access to the crime log, an annual security report regarding designated CLERY Act crimes, and information about obtaining data on registered sex offenders.
A college must also designate “Campus Security Authorities” (“CSA”), who are officials of an institution who have significant responsibility for student and campus activities, including, but not limited to, student housing, student discipline, and campus judicial proceedings. Each CSA is a mandated reporter of crimes and should be trained on CLERY Act compliance.
In order to be prepared for an audit, the College should have a list of all CSAs for CLERY Act purposes. Other relevant documents will include handbooks which contain institutional policies, any publications relating to the CLERY Act and information on how they are distributed, public safety operating procedures, all records of recorded crimes, both CLERY and non-CLERY, maps and lists of buildings and land for which reporting is required, and the most recent campus security reports.
It is imperative that a college enter an audit understanding the geographic area for which it must report crimes, and the crime statistics it must collect, including statistics from other law enforcement agencies. Emergency response and evacuation procedures must be in place. The daily crime logs and annual security reports must be accurate and up to date and must address procedures to report crimes or emergencies and policies and procedures for issuing timely warnings to the campus population. Any audit will also include an examination of drug or alcohol abuse education programs and programs offered by the college regarding sexual assaults and prevention of sexual offenses, including procedures to follow when a sex offense occurs.
We strongly suggest that each college create checklists of
required documents and procedures to meet complex CLERY Act requirements, and identify and train campus security authorities to meet their obligations. It has become apparent that the days of DOE indifference to CLERY Act compliance are over.
For more Higher Education articles, check out our recent Higher Education Newsletter release.
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