Bill Would Require Some Colleges To Open Daily Police Logs
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Contending that some colleges cover up crime, critics testified Thursday in favor of a bill that would force many schools to keep daily crime logs and open them for public inspection.
They claim colleges and universities underreport crime statistics to make their campuses appear safer, and handle incidents through campus disciplinary systems, which are shielded by privacy laws.
Opponents of the Open Campus Security Log Act, however, said the extra reporting it would require is not needed, would not deter crime and would do little more than existing campus security laws.
Connie Clery, mother of Jeanne Ann Clery who was raped and murdered in 1986 while a student at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, pleaded for passage of the bill. She told a House Education subcommittee that open campus police logs would make students more aware of dangers on college campuses so they could protect themselves.
``Jeanne and thousands of other victims of campus crimes might be alive and well today if (House bill) 2416 had been the law in 1986,″ she said.
Right now, colleges that receive federal money are required to compile statistics on certain crimes, including murders, sex offenses, robberies and aggravated assaults, and provide them to students and staff. They must publish an annual security report and provide timely warning about any crimes that pose an ongoing threat on campus.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. John Duncan Jr., R-Tenn., would expand that to require colleges with security or police departments to keep a daily log of all crimes against persons or property; the date, time and location of such crimes; and the names and addresses of people charged.
``We don’t need to spend more money on record keeping and on disclosure,″ said Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity College, a private, liberal arts college in Washington. ``If I have any more money to spend on campus safety, I would like to spend that money on more guards and more measures to prevent crime from happening.″
Douglas F. Tuttle, and president of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, said he’s not sure daily logs would solve alleged underreporting of campus crime.
``The major reason for a reality gap between what may be occurring on a campus and the crime statistics compiled annually is the fact that some crimes simply aren’t being reported at all,″ Tuttle said.
More enforcement is needed to ensure a higher level of compliance of existing campus crime reporting laws, said Tuttle, public safety director at the University of Delaware, which puts its daily update of reported crimes and incidents on the Internet.
``Without a monitoring program, the effectiveness of the law rests upon the good intentions of our colleagues, who may be making every effort to do what is right, but who sometimes face opposition from other campus administrators who are more concerned with image than campus safety,″ Tuttle said.
Speaking on behalf of the Society of Professional Journalists, Carolyn S. Carlson urged lawmakers to amend the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act to remove what she says is a loophole in reporting campus crime.
To protect their image, schools are denying access to crime information by keeping them in the campus disciplinary systems, she said.
In April, The Chronicle of Higher Education released its annual survey of crime on U.S. college campuses. The survey revealed that drug violations rose 23 percent in 1994; alcohol-related offenses were up 5.6 percent; and forcible sex offenses rose 12 percent.
The survey reported 19 murders in 1994, compared with 15 in 1993. The numbers of robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, auto thefts and weapons violations remained steady or declined.