oversight

Campus Crime: Difficulties Meeting Federal Reporting Requirements

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-03-11.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                 United States General Accounting Office

GAO              Report to Congressional Requesters




March 1997
                 CAMPUS CRIME
                 Difficulties Meeting
                 Federal Reporting
                 Requirements




GAO/HEHS-97-52
      United States
GAO   General Accounting Office
      Washington, D.C. 20548

      Health, Education, and
      Human Services Division

      B-276054

      March 11, 1997

      The Honorable James M. Jeffords
      Chairman, Committee on Labor and
        Human Resources
      United States Senate

      The Honorable Bill Frist
      United States Senate

      The Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act was enacted in 1990 partly
      in response to a steady rise in violent crime reported on some college
      campuses. Recent slayings of professors and students and incidents of
      rape are among criminal occurrences that have caused growing concern in
      the college community. At the time of the law’s enactment, less than
      5 percent of postsecondary schools1 participated in the Federal Bureau of
      Investigation’s (FBI) voluntary crime reporting system.

      The law and its implementing regulations encourage the development of
      security policies and procedures on all college campuses participating in
      federal student aid programs—including policies and procedures to
      address sexual assaults and to bring about uniformity and consistency in
      reporting campus crime statistics to students, parents, and employees.
      Advocates for this legislation hoped more complete reports would prompt
      actions that would reduce the incidence of crime, as well as allow
      individuals to better protect themselves.

      During the past year, however, concern surfaced that colleges were not
      fully complying with campus security requirements and that the
      Department of Education was not doing enough to monitor and enforce
      compliance. Bills were introduced in the 104th Congress that would have
      required colleges to maintain an easily understood daily log of all crimes
      reported to campus police or security departments—a requirement that
      goes beyond the current law’s requirements and is similar to those of laws
      enacted by several states. These state laws are referred to as “open
      campus crime log laws.” In support of what they saw as the need for
      additional federal legislation, proponents of these bills pointed out that the
      statistics that colleges publish to conform with existing law do not provide
      enough information and that they are only required to be published once a
      year.



      1
       In this report, we refer to all postsecondary institutions as “colleges.”



      Page 1                                                     GAO/HEHS-97-52 College Campus Security
                       B-276054




                       You asked that we provide you information that would help the Congress
                       assess the progress made under the Crime Awareness and Campus
                       Security Act and a description of the contents of states’ open campus
                       crime log laws. In response, we developed information on

                   •   how the Department of Education has implemented and monitored
                       compliance with the act;
                   •   the kinds of problems, if any, colleges are having in complying with the
                       act; and
                   •   the requirements of state laws related to public access to police records on
                       reported crimes on campuses.

                       To develop our information, we reviewed Department of Education
                       regulations and other policy guidance and interviewed Department
                       officials at headquarters and regional offices. We also analyzed campus
                       security reports of 25 colleges and interviewed campus officials of these
                       and other colleges. We also analyzed state statutes and spoke with
                       representatives of campus safety and related interest groups. (See app. I
                       for details of our scope and methodology.)


                       Although colleges are having difficulty complying with the act, the
Results in Brief       Department only recently began a systematic effort to monitor
                       compliance. Starting in 1991, the Department of Education issued policy
                       guidance to colleges for implementing the law’s crime reporting
                       requirements. Since that time, the Department has also provided technical
                       assistance to individual colleges upon request. This assistance has taken
                       the form, for example, of responding to telephone inquiries to the
                       Customer Support Branch of the Department’s Office of Postsecondary
                       Education.

                       Although the Department began issuing implementing guidance to colleges
                       less than a year after the law was passed, the Department has only
                       recently begun to develop procedures for its program reviewers and
                       auditors that systematically address monitoring compliance with these
                       requirements. Moreover, citing resource limitations, the Department
                       delayed preparing a report on campus crime statistics for which the law
                       prescribed a September 1995 issuance date. The Department issued the
                       report in February 1997.

                       At the campus level, colleges are finding it difficult to consistently
                       interpret and apply some of the law’s reporting requirements. For



                       Page 2                                    GAO/HEHS-97-52 College Campus Security
             B-276054




             example, our analysis showed considerable variation in colleges’ practices
             for deciding which incidents to include in their reports and what
             categories to use in classifying certain crimes. Areas of difficulty included
             deciding how to include incidents reported to campus officials other than
             law enforcement officers, interpreting federal requirements for reporting
             sexual offenses, and reporting data on hate crimes.

             Federal legislation proposed in the 104th Congress would have augmented
             available information on campus crime by requiring that campus police
             records be open to the campus community. Similar laws exist in eight
             states. Three laws contain a specific requirement that colleges maintain
             daily logs. Most laws protect the identity of victims and informants from
             disclosure and ensure that any information that might jeopardize an
             ongoing investigation also remains confidential. The state laws vary in
             many details, such as whether identification of juvenile offenders is
             required and whether noncompliance by the college can result in
             penalties. These laws differ from the 1990 act in requiring year-round
             access to campus police reports rather than annual summary statistics.


             The Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990 and its
Background   implementing regulations require colleges, as a condition for participating
             in federal financial aid programs authorized under title IV of the Higher
             Education Act of 1965, as amended,2 to publish and distribute an annual
             security report that includes statements about campus3 law enforcement
             policies, security education and crime prevention programs, alcohol and
             drug policies, sexual assault education and prevention programs,
             procedures for reporting sexual assaults, procedures explaining how
             reports of sexual assaults will be dealt with, and annual statistics on crime
             incidents. The law also requires colleges to provide timely warning to the
             campus community about crimes that are considered to represent a threat
             to other students and employees.

             The law requires the collection of data on campus crime, distinct from
             state or local data, and that information on the incidence of campus crime


             2
              Title IV authorizes the major federal student loan and grant aid programs. All colleges participating in
             title IV programs must sign a Program Participation Agreement certifying that they are in compliance
             with various requirements, including disclosure of campus security policy and crime statistics.
             3
              Department regulations define “campus” as (1) any building or property owned or controlled by the
             college within a reasonably contiguous area and used by the college in direct support of, or in a
             manner related to, the college’s educational purposes; (2) any building or property owned or
             controlled by a student organization recognized by the college; or (3) any building or property
             controlled by the college but owned by a third party.



             Page 3                                                   GAO/HEHS-97-52 College Campus Security
                       B-276054




                       and of colleges’ security policies and procedures be available. The
                       statistical reporting provision requires colleges to annually compile and
                       report to the campus community statistics on reported crimes, such as
                       murder and robbery, and on arrests for such crimes as liquor law
                       violations.

                       As the agency administering title IV programs, the Department of
                       Education is responsible for issuing guidance to implement the law,
                       monitoring colleges’ compliance with its requirements, and issuing two
                       reports: a compilation of exemplary campus security practices and a
                       report to the Congress on campus crime statistics. Procedures for
                       monitoring compliance with title IV requirements include program reviews
                       of selected colleges, annual independent audits of all colleges participating
                       in title IV, and compliance reviews in response to complaints received.
                       According to a 1996 publication of the Student Press Law Center,4 11
                       states have laws requiring schools to compile and release statistics on
                       campus crime.

                       Two bills—H.R. 2416 and S. 2065—introduced in the 104th Congress
                       would have required more detailed and current campus security records to
                       be made accessible to the public. Although a hearing was held in the
                       House, no further action was taken before the session’s end. Had the bills
                       been enacted, they would have applied to colleges with police or security
                       departments and required the colleges, in addition to reporting annual
                       crime statistics, to maintain open-to-the-public, easily understood daily
                       logs that chronologically recorded all crimes against persons or property
                       reported to college campus or security departments. The bills were
                       modeled after a law that has been in effect in Tennessee since 1994.


                       Department implementation of the Crime Awareness and Campus Security
The Department Has     Act’s reporting requirements has included issuing regulations;
Been Slow to Monitor   disseminating policy guidance to colleges; providing technical assistance
Compliance and         to colleges and outreach to campus law enforcement organizations; and,
                       to a limited extent, checking whether colleges have prepared crime
Report to the          statistics reports and what procedures they have used for disseminating
Congress               the reports. However, because of resource constraints, the Department
                       has only recently expanded its monitoring efforts by initiating program
                       reviews that specifically address compliance with the act’s reporting



                       4
                         The Student Press Law Center, Covering Campus Crime: A Handbook for Journalists (Arlington, Va.:
                       The Student Press Law Center, Inc., 1996).



                       Page 4                                               GAO/HEHS-97-52 College Campus Security
                                   B-276054




                                   requirements. Moreover, the Department was late in issuing a required
                                   report to the Congress.


Regulatory Guidance Was            Following enactment of the law in 1990, the Department issued various
Issued, and Technical              policy guidance documents on campus security to help colleges meet the
Assistance Was                     law’s requirements, as summarized in table 1. Most of the guidance was
                                   issued as Department letters. Final implementing regulations took effect in
Emphasized                         July 1994.

Table 1: Department of Education
Policy Guidance to Implement the   Date                      Type of guidance provided
Campus Security Act                March 1991                Department letter notifying colleges to prepare, publish,
                                                             and disseminate campus crime statistics (required by
                                                             original statute)
                                   August 1991               Department letter revising effective date for colleges to
                                                             begin compiling statistics and changing colleges’
                                                             reporting period (required by statutory amendment)
                                   July 1992                 Department letter expanding definition of sexual offenses
                                                             category and permitting disclosure of law enforcement-
                                                             related student records (required by statutory
                                                             amendment)
                                   July 1994                 Regulations (34 C.F.R. part 668) specifying statistical
                                                             reporting requirements, deadlines, and definitions of
                                                             crimes and including—for three of the categories—a
                                                             requirement to report statistics on crimes evidencing
                                                             prejudice (required by statutory amendment)
                                   May 1996                  Department letter further clarifying reporting requirements
                                                             and providing information on obtaining technical
                                                             assistance and filing a complaint of noncompliance
                                                             (Department initiative)

                                   The Department supplemented its policy guidance with technical
                                   assistance provided upon request by its Customer Support Branch. To help
                                   colleges achieve compliance, the Department emphasizes providing such
                                   assistance, rather than imposing sanctions. Under Department policy, the
                                   Secretary imposes sanctions only if a college flagrantly or intentionally
                                   violates the regulations or fails to take corrective action when required to
                                   do so. Available sanctions include fines or limitation, suspension, or
                                   termination of participation in federal financial aid programs. Department
                                   officials told us that although the Department and independent auditors
                                   had identified violations at 63 colleges since the law’s enactment, as of
                                   January 1997, the Department had not imposed sanctions against any
                                   college found in noncompliance with campus security requirements.




                                   Page 5                                     GAO/HEHS-97-52 College Campus Security
                          B-276054




Monitoring Compliance     Although the Department began issuing guidance to colleges on complying
Has Been Slow, and Some   with the law in 1991, guidance for monitoring program compliance came
Problems Remain           much more slowly. The Department did not issue its first program review
                          guidance specifically addressing campus security until September 1996.
                          Until this recent incorporation of campus security in program review
                          guidance, the Department’s program reviewers had not emphasized
                          monitoring campus security reports in their title IV reviews, focusing
                          instead on compliance with other provisions of title IV. Although most of
                          the nearly 2,800 title IV program reviews conducted between September
                          1992 and May 1996 found noncompliance with some title IV program
                          requirements, only 24 of these reviews identified campus security
                          violations.5 Department officials told us that monitoring had generally
                          been limited to checking whether colleges published a campus security
                          report and had procedures for its distribution. Since no review guidance
                          for monitoring campus security was available until September 1996, it is
                          unlikely that the reviewers checked whether the reports contained all the
                          required information or whether information was accurate.

                          Under the new monitoring guidance, program reviewers must check a
                          college’s crime report for all required information and should attempt to
                          evaluate the procedures used to collect crime data. The accuracy of crime
                          statistics need not be verified unless it becomes apparent from a
                          complaint or some other source that the security report may be
                          incomplete or inaccurate. In such cases, the Department is to take
                          appropriate action to ensure compliance, including more thoroughly
                          examining the statistics and, if warranted, taking formal administrative
                          action. As of January 1997, the Department had received five complaints of
                          noncompliance: one precipitated an in-depth campus security compliance
                          review; the other four complaints are still being investigated.

                          Even with the new guidance, however, program review officials told us
                          that staff are still having some difficulty monitoring compliance. Reasons
                          for the difficulty include reviewers’ limited experience in dealing with law
                          enforcement matters, uncertainties about how to interpret certain
                          definitions of reportable crimes, and differences among campuses that
                          make evaluation difficult under a single set of program review guidelines.
                          In the case of urban campuses, for example, reviewers may have difficulty
                          in determining which facilities are campus related. The difficulties
                          involving definitions and differences among colleges are discussed in more
                          detail later in this report.

                          5
                           Department officials said that, between May 1996 and January 1997, an additional 27 program reviews
                          identified violations.



                          Page 6                                                GAO/HEHS-97-52 College Campus Security
                         B-276054




                         The Department has yet to issue guidance for independent auditors who
                         conduct federally required annual audits of all colleges participating in
                         title IV programs. The Department’s June 1995 independent audit guide
                         does not provide guidance to auditors on checking for campus security
                         compliance. As of August 1996, only six audits had documented
                         noncompliance on security matters since the act took effect, and a
                         Department official said that most auditors participating in training
                         sessions held in regional Inspector General offices were unaware of
                         campus security reporting requirements, further suggesting that auditors
                         may not be routinely scrutinizing campus security reports.6 The
                         Department plans to issue an updated audit guide that will explicitly refer
                         to campus security compliance and instruct auditors to ensure that
                         campus security reports are prepared and distributed according to federal
                         requirements. A Department official responsible for writing the audit guide
                         expects it to be issued some time in 1997.


Required Report to the   Although the Department issued a required report on exemplary campus
Congress Was Late        security practices in September 1994, the Department was more than 1
                         year late in issuing a report on campus crime statistics to the Congress.
                         The law required the Department to review campus crime statistics and
                         issue a report to the Congress by September 1, 1995. Citing limited
                         resources to perform such a review, the Department postponed issuing the
                         report until February 1997.

                         As the basis for the report, the Department conducted a national survey on
                         campus crime and security. A representative sample of 1,500 colleges was
                         surveyed to establish baseline information on crime statistics by such
                         attributes as type of school (such as 4-year public or 2-year private),
                         nature of the campus (such as urban or rural and residential or
                         commuter), and types of public safety employees providing campus
                         security. Having compiled and reported the survey results, the Department
                         plans to evaluate whether additional actions are needed at the federal
                         level.




                         6
                         In addition, Department officials said that campus security is not generally included in the
                         Department’s quality control reviews of independent audits.



                         Page 7                                                  GAO/HEHS-97-52 College Campus Security
                                        B-276054




                                        Our review of selected colleges’ campus security reports and our
Colleges Are Having                     interviews with selected campus officials indicate that colleges are having
Difficulty Applying                     difficulty applying some of the law’s reporting requirements. As a result,
Regulatory Criteria                     colleges are not reporting data uniformly. Of the 25 reports we reviewed,
                                        only 2 provided information in all the prescribed categories. Table 2
and Are Not Reporting                   summarizes the principal problems colleges are having.
Uniformly
Table 2: Colleges’ Principal Problems
in Reporting Crime Statistics           Problem                                          Reason
                                        Excluding crimes reported to campus              Details of crimes reported to academic
                                        officials other than campus security officials   officials, such as counselors, are protected
                                                                                         from disclosure, and some campus safety
                                                                                         officials are reluctant to report numbers
                                                                                         they cannot verify.
                                        Using incorrect categories to report             Crimes to be reported in this category
                                        sex-related offenses                             were amended in 1992 to provide different
                                                                                         reporting systems for sex offenses.
                                        Using an incorrect category to report murder Some colleges are reporting deaths as
                                                                                     homicides, which can include deaths from
                                                                                     negligence, rather than just murders.
                                        Omitting information on hate crimes              Some colleges reported that they were
                                                                                         unaware of this requirement, which is not
                                                                                         mentioned in the Department’s letters to
                                                                                         colleges.
                                        Excluding information on crimes reported to      Local police records do not always lend
                                        local police                                     themselves to identification and
                                                                                         categorization of incidents at
                                                                                         college-related facilities (such as
                                                                                         fraternities or sororities).
                                        Using arrest data to reflect reported liquor,    Such factors as whether the campus
                                        drug, and weapons possession violations          police department has arrest power can
                                                                                         affect the number of arrests reported by
                                                                                         the school.



Excluding Crimes                        Campus law enforcement officials differ as to whether their reported
Reported to Campus                      statistics must include crimes reported to them by other campus
Officials Other Than Law                authorities without information identifying the persons involved in the
                                        reported incidents. For example, according to comments the Department
Enforcement Officials                   received during rulemaking, students are sometimes more comfortable
                                        reporting incidents—particularly sex-related offenses—through academic
                                        rather than law enforcement channels.

                                        The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) generally prohibits
                                        the disclosure of education records or information from education



                                        Page 8                                             GAO/HEHS-97-52 College Campus Security
B-276054




records, which originally included personally identifiable details on crime
incidents. As a result of a 1992 amendment to FERPA, however, reports of
incidents maintained by campus law enforcement officials for law
enforcement purposes are not now classified as education information
and, therefore, may be disclosed. Even incidents reported to campus
authorities other than law enforcement officials may be included in the
campus crime statistics as long as information identifying the persons
involved is not disclosed. But reporting such incidents in the statistics is
not required under a Department interpretation of the Crime Awareness
and Campus Security Act. According to that interpretation, colleges may
exclude from their statistics those incidents that campus law enforcement
officials cannot validate because, for example, the parties’ names were not
disclosed.7

The fact that the incidents need not be reported is reflected by variations
in campus security reports, as some reports excluded information from
non-law-enforcement sources for which no personally identifiable
information was provided. Our review of 25 reports prepared by colleges
showed that some of the data may have been incomplete or incompatible
because of differences in safety officials’ access to information, insistence
on verifiable data, or both. Six reports showed direct and varied attempts
to address these differences—for example, by supplementing required
crime categories with explanatory subcategories, adding a column
showing incidents reported to other officials, or adding footnotes. When
we asked campus law enforcement officials at the 25 colleges how they
treated such cases, we found an even greater variation in their responses
than in the reports. For example, nine said their numbers included
incidents reported to campus officials who were not law enforcement
officials without any notation to that effect, and four said their numbers
excluded incidents they could not verify. Some were concerned about
reporting incidents for which no details were provided because, without
details on specific cases, they were unable to verify that a crime had
occurred, had been properly classified, or had been counted only once—if,
for example, a crime had been reported to more than one office. At some
colleges, security officials do not receive even unverifiable statistics from
counselors: Officials at five colleges said counselors are not required to or
generally do not report incidents to them, and the general counsel of one
state’s higher education organization concurred in that interpretation.


7
 The preamble to the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act regulations states that reported
crimes need not be disclosed unless appropriate law enforcement officials are able to conclude, with
the same degree of certainty they would require under the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting System, that
a crime has occurred.



Page 9                                                GAO/HEHS-97-52 College Campus Security
                           B-276054




Using the Wrong            Although colleges’ statistical reports included most of the prescribed
Categories in Reporting    criminal reporting categories, reporting officials appeared to have
Sex-Related Offenses and   difficulty principally with two categories: sex offenses and murder.
Murder                     In 60 percent of the reports we reviewed, colleges had difficulty complying
                           with the reporting requirement for sex-related offenses. Colleges are
                           required to report statistics on sexual offenses; they are not required to
                           distinguish between forcible and nonforcible offenses.8 Of the reports we
                           reviewed, 15 incorrectly categorized offenses. For example, several
                           colleges listed incidents as “rape” or “attempted rape,” both of which are
                           less inclusive than the term “forcible sexual offense.”

                           We also noted a discrepancy in how colleges reported the number of
                           murders. Seven of the reports we reviewed labeled incidents resulting in
                           death as homicides, but the law requires the term “murders.” According to
                           the Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook, homicide can also include
                           killings that result from negligence, whereas murder refers to willful
                           killings. Because homicide is not as specific a term, the use of this broader
                           category could obscure the actual number of murders.


Omitting Hate Crimes       The Department’s regulations for the Crime Awareness and Campus
                           Security Act require colleges to report statistics on murders, forcible
                           rapes, and aggravated assaults that manifest evidence of prejudice based
                           on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, as defined in the Hate
                           Crimes Statistics Act. However, of the reports we reviewed, only five
                           included this information. Eleven of the 16 officials we asked about the
                           omission told us they were unaware of the requirement, which was not
                           mentioned in the Department’s letters explaining the statistical reporting
                           requirements. Another two said they lacked direction on how to report
                           these crimes.


Excluding Information on   Although the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act requires that
Crimes Reported to Local   crime statistics include on-campus occurrences reported to local police,
Police                     our interviews with college officials and review of their statistical reports
                           suggest that colleges vary in their inclusion of incidents reported to local
                           police. Of the 25 reports we reviewed, 1 specifically stated that it did not
                           include incidents reported to local police, and a second stated that it
                           included such incidents when available. In contrast, six reports indicated

                           8
                            Forcible sex offenses include forcible rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object, and
                           forcible fondling. Nonforcible sex offenses comprise incest and statutory rape.



                           Page 10                                                 GAO/HEHS-97-52 College Campus Security
                        B-276054




                        that incidents reported to local police were included. According to a law
                        enforcement official we contacted and our analysis of a Department
                        program review, reporting such incidents can be difficult. For example,
                        record systems of some local police departments do not lend themselves
                        to converting the incidents to the categories required for campus security
                        reports. Moreover, identifying incidents at college-related facilities can be
                        a problem when a campus is dispersed throughout a large urban area.


Using Arrest Data for   For three crime categories—liquor, drug, and weapons possession
Three Reporting         violations—the law requires statistics on the number of arrests, rather
Categories              than on the number of reported crimes. For these categories, uniformity of
                        statistics can be affected to some degree by school policies and type of
                        authority of the campus security department. For example, one campus
                        security report we reviewed contained a footnote to the effect that
                        liquor-law violations were frequently adjudicated through campus judicial
                        procedures and, therefore, would not be included in the arrest statistics.
                        Three law enforcement officials told us that offenses are less likely to
                        result in arrests on campuses that do not have security departments with
                        the power to make arrests.


                        We identified eight states that require public access to campus police or
States’ Open Campus     security department records on reported crimes: California,
Crime Record Laws’      Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia,
Provisions Vary         and West Virginia. In all but Minnesota, the laws in general apply to all
                        institutions of higher education, public and private. Minnesota’s law
                        applies only to public colleges.

                        Three of the eight states (Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee)
                        have laws specifically requiring campus safety authorities to maintain
                        daily logs open to public inspection. The remaining five, while not
                        prescribing the log format, require disclosure of information similar to that
                        required to be kept in the logs.

                        Certain provisions are common to a number of these state laws. For
                        example, they generally contain a provision exempting disclosure that is
                        otherwise prohibited by law. Many prohibit publication of the names of
                        victims or of victims of sex-related crimes. Many also include some type of
                        provision protecting witnesses, informants, or information that might
                        jeopardize an ongoing investigation. Several law enforcement officials
                        emphasized to us the importance of including such a provision.



                        Page 11                                   GAO/HEHS-97-52 College Campus Security
                  B-276054




                  The laws also differ in a number of other respects, such as the following:

              •   California, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma specifically provide for penalties
                  for noncompliance; the other states do not specify penalties.
              •   Only California includes a specific reference to occurrences involving
                  hate; in fact, California’s law requires inclusion of noncriminal hate-related
                  incidents.

                  For more information on the eight laws, see appendix II.

                  We also agreed to determine whether any legal challenges had been raised
                  to state open campus crime log laws and whether the effectiveness of such
                  laws had been studied. We did not find any reported cases challenging
                  these laws or any studies of their positive or negative effects.

                  In addition, according to the Student Press Law Center’s Covering Campus
                  Crime: A Handbook for Journalists, all 50 states have open records or
                  “sunshine” laws, most of which require public institutions’ records to be
                  open to the public unless they are specifically exempted. Generally, public
                  colleges are covered by those laws. For example, Colorado’s open records
                  law declares that it is public policy that all state records be open for
                  inspection, including all writings made, maintained, or kept by the state or
                  any agency or institution—which would include state colleges.9 These
                  laws generally provide that if records are kept, they must be open; the
                  laws are not intended to impose a new recordkeeping requirement.


                  The consistency and completeness of campus crime reporting envisioned
Conclusions       under the act have been difficult to attain for two primary reasons. First,
                  the differing characteristics of colleges—such as their location in an urban
                  or other setting or the extent to which complaints may be handled through
                  campus governance rather than through police channels—affect the
                  colleges’ ability to provide a complete and consistent picture of incidents
                  that occur on their campuses. Second, some confusion exists about
                  reporting requirements, particularly about how certain categories of
                  crimes are to be classified.

                  The Department originally relied mostly on its regulations, letters to
                  colleges, and technical assistance to implement the Crime Awareness and
                  Campus Security Act. Its continued efforts in providing technical
                  assistance to school officials, as well as its recent issuance of monitoring

                  9
                   Colo. Rev. Stat. secs. 24-72-201 to 24-72-309.



                  Page 12                                           GAO/HEHS-97-52 College Campus Security
                  B-276054




                  guidance to Department officials and its current work to update audit
                  guidelines for independent auditors, may achieve more consistent
                  reporting and compliance with the law by colleges. For example, these
                  efforts may improve consistency in categories used and type of crimes
                  reported. However, inherent differences among colleges will be a
                  long-term obstacle to achieving comparable, comprehensive campus crime
                  statistics. Although a federal open crime log law could offer more timely
                  access to information on campus crime and a means of verifying the
                  accuracy of schools’ statistical reports, such logs would continue to reflect
                  the inherent differences among colleges apparent in the summary
                  statistics currently required by the act. For example, such logs might not
                  include off-campus incidents or, without an amendment to FERPA,
                  incidents that students report through non-law-enforcement channels.


                  On February 12, 1997, the Department of Education provided comments
Agency Comments   on a draft of this report (see app. III). The Department generally agreed
                  with our basic conclusions and provided us a number of technical
                  comments, which we incorporated as appropriate.


                  We are sending copies of this report to the Secretary of Education,
                  appropriate congressional committees, and other interested parties. Please
                  call me at (202) 512-7014 or Joseph J. Eglin, Jr., Assistant Director, at
                  (202) 512-7009 if you or your staff have any questions about this report.
                  Other staff who contributed to this report are listed in appendix IV.




                  Carlotta C. Joyner
                  Director, Education and
                    Employment Issues




                  Page 13                                  GAO/HEHS-97-52 College Campus Security
Contents



Letter                                                                                          1


Appendix I                                                                                     16

Scope and
Methodology
Appendix II                                                                                    18

Provisions of State
Open Campus Crime
Record Laws
Appendix III                                                                                   22

Comments From the
Department of
Education
Appendix IV                                                                                    24

GAO Contacts and
Staff
Acknowledgments
Tables                Table 1: Department of Education Policy Guidance to Implement             5
                        the Campus Security Act
                      Table 2: Colleges’ Principal Problems in Reporting Crime                  8
                        Statistics




                      Abbreviations

                      FBI       Federal Bureau of Investigation
                      FERPA     Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
                      IACLEA    International Association of Campus Law Enforcement
                                     Administrators


                      Page 14                               GAO/HEHS-97-52 College Campus Security
Page 15   GAO/HEHS-97-52 College Campus Security
Appendix I

Scope and Methodology


             To determine the actions the Department of Education has taken to
             implement and monitor compliance with the Crime Awareness and
             Campus Security Act, we interviewed officials at the Department’s
             headquarters and regional offices and analyzed pertinent regulations,
             policy guidance, and other documents. To identify difficulties colleges
             were having in complying with the act, we interviewed officials at 27
             colleges selected from a judgmental sample of colleges from the following
             four groups.

             Members of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement
             Administrators (IACLEA)—Ten Colleges. Our initial college law
             enforcement contact was the Director of Police at the University of
             Delaware, also a past president of IACLEA and a recognized authority on the
             Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act. He provided us with the
             names of chief law enforcement officials at eight IACLEA member colleges,
             one in each of the eight states with open campus police log laws. These
             officials, in turn, referred us to two additional member colleges.

             Non-IACLEA Members in States With Open Log Laws—Eight Colleges. Using
             a list of non-IACLEA colleges provided by IACLEA, we selected six 4-year and
             two 2-year colleges representing all eight states with open log laws and
             spoke to their heads of campus security. All eight colleges had an
             enrollment exceeding 1,000 students.

             Colleges in States Without Open Log Laws—Seven Colleges. From a
             universe of colleges representing all states, we randomly selected colleges,
             with enrollments exceeding 1,000 students, that participated in title IV
             programs from the Department’s Integrated Postsecondary Education
             Data System, stratified by type of college (such as 4-year private or 2-year
             public) and geographic region. The chiefs of campus security at these
             seven colleges composed the third group of officials interviewed.

             Colleges Involved in Complaints About Crime Statistics—Two Colleges.
             We included two other colleges for information on complaints regarding
             crime statistics. We included the first of these because a complaint had
             been lodged against that college. We included the second college because
             it was subject to the same state crime reporting system as another
             college—the only one that has undergone an in-depth Department review
             as a result of a crime statistic complaint.

             In addition, we asked the campus security officials interviewed to send us
             a copy of their most recent campus security statistics. We received



             Page 16                                  GAO/HEHS-97-52 College Campus Security
Appendix I
Scope and Methodology




statistical reports from 25 colleges and evaluated them to determine the
extent to which the reports conformed to crime reporting requirements
prescribed in the act. We did not trace the numbers to source documents
to check their accuracy or completeness. We also searched the literature
and reported case law to determine whether any studies had been done on
the effects of or legal challenges to state open log laws. We analyzed state
statutes and spoke with representatives of campus safety and other
interest groups as well as faculty specializing in criminal justice.

We performed our work between June 1996 and January 1997 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.




Page 17                                  GAO/HEHS-97-52 College Campus Security
Appendix II

Provisions of State Open Campus Crime
Record Laws


                                                          Officials                                           Identification to be
                                                          involved/required           Information to be       provided/
State                   Date   Institutions covered       actions/penalties           covered                 individuals exempted
California              1992   Community colleges,        Police or campus            Financial aid           Financial aid
                               the U. of Calif., Calif.   security or safety          colleges: occurrences   colleges: identity and
Calif. Ed. Code secs.          State U., the Hastings     authorities: compile        reported to campus      description of
67380 and 94380                School of Law, and all     records and make            police, security, or    persons arrested and
                               colleges receiving         information available,      safety authorities;     of victims, except
                               public funds for           within 2 business days      arrests for campus      name and address of
                               student financial aid      after the request, to the   crimes involving        victims of sex-related
                                                          college’s students,         violence, hate          crimes unless with
                               Excludes public and        employees, applicants       violence, theft,        consent and not if it
                               private colleges with      for admission, or the       property destruction,   would endanger the
                               <1,000 full-time           media                       illegal drugs, or       person or the
                               students and                                           alcohol intoxication;   successful
                               community colleges         For private colleges        and acts of hate        completion of the
                               unless legislature         other than those listed,    violence for which a    investigation or a
                               provides the funding       appropriate officials shall written record is       related investigation
                               to implement               make information            prepared even if not
                                                          available on request of     criminal                Other private
                                                          students, employees, or                             colleges: records of
                                                          applicants for admission Other private              all reported
                                                                                      colleges: same,         occurrences and
                                                          Penalty: civil damages      except no mention of    arrests for crimes
                                                          not to exceed $1,000 if     hate violence           involving violence,
                                                          information is not made                             theft, destruction of
                                                          available                                           property, illegal
                                                                                                              drugs, or alcohol
                                                                                                              intoxication that
                                                                                                              happen on campus
Massachusetts           1991   Each college or            Campus enforcement          Easily understood       Names and
                               university with            officers deputized by the   chronological, daily    addresses of arrested
Mass. Gen. Laws                enforcement officers       state: make log available   log, including          persons and charges
Ann. sec. 41:98F               deputized by the state     to the public without       responses to valid      against them
                                                          charge during business      complaints; reported
                                                          hours and at other          crimes; and names,      Exempts from
                                                          reasonable times            addresses, and          disclosure incidents
                                                                                      charges filed against   involving certain
                                                                                      arrested persons        types of handicapped
                                                                                                              persons, which are to
                                                                                                              be separately
                                                                                                              maintained

                                                                                                                         (continued)




                                       Page 18                                             GAO/HEHS-97-52 College Campus Security
                                            Appendix II
                                            Provisions of State Open Campus Crime
                                            Record Laws




                                                              Officials                                               Identification to be
                                                              involved/required            Information to be          provided/
State                    Date        Institutions covered     actions/penalties            covered                    individuals exempted
Minnesota                1993        Public educational       Providers of security        Date; time; place;         Name, age, sex, and
                                     agencies and             services at public           events in brief,           address of adults
Minn. Stat. Ann. secs.               institutions             campuses and U. of           including resistance       arrested and names
13.32, 13.82, and                                             Minn. police: make           encountered and            and addresses of
13.861                                                        available as public          weapons involvement;       victims, witnesses,
                                                              records law enforcement      names and                  and casualties unless
                                                              records that are kept        addresses of
                                                              separate from education      witnesses, victims,        —incident involved
                                                              records and maintained       and casualties,            sexual misconduct,
                                                              solely for law               except for protected
                                                              enforcement purposes,        categories; and            —need to protect
                                                              including response or        names and locations        informant or
                                                              incident data and arrest     of any health facilities   undercover agent, or
                                                              information                  to which injured
                                                                                           parties were taken         —need to protect
                                                                                                                      victim or witness
                                                                                                                      when victim or
                                                                                                                      witness requests
                                                                                                                      privacy and
                                                                                                                      convinces police
                                                                                                                      disclosure poses a
                                                                                                                      threat
Oklahoma               1991 (under   Public and private       Commissioned campus           Chronological list of     Persons arrested or
                       the state     campuses (under the      police officers: specified    incidents including       convicted
Okla. Stat. 1051 secs. Open          state’s Campus           law enforcement records       offense, date, time,
24A.2, 24A.3, 24A.8, Record Law,     Security Act, private    must be open to any           general location,         Identification of other
and 24A.17;            rather than   colleges’ police         person for inspection         officer, brief summary    than the person
Okla. Stat. 74 sec.    an open log   departments are          and copying during            of what happened,         arrested is required
360.17                 law)          public agencies for      regular business hours        and circumstances of      only as required by
                                     the limited purpose of                                 the arrest;               another law, if the
                                     crime enforcement)       Public body or public         arrestee description,     court finds it in the
                                                              official shall not be civilly including                 public interest, or if
                                                              liable for damages for        demographics, and         another individual’s
                                                              providing the required        conviction information    interest outweighs the
                                                              access to public records                                reason for denying
                                                                                                                      access
                                                              Penalty: violation
                                                              punishable by fine not                                  Records of the Office
                                                              over $500, imprisonment                                 of Juvenile Systems
                                                              not over 1 year, or both,                               Oversight are exempt
                                                              and reasonable attorney                                 unless disclosure is
                                                              fees                                                    court ordered

                                                              Records must be open, if
                                                              kept; the intent is not to
                                                              impose a new
                                                              recordkeeping
                                                              requirement
                                                                                                                                 (continued)




                                            Page 19                                             GAO/HEHS-97-52 College Campus Security
                                           Appendix II
                                           Provisions of State Open Campus Crime
                                           Record Laws




                                                           Officials                                               Identification to be
                                                           involved/required              Information to be        provided/
State                   Date        Institutions covered   actions/penalties              covered                  individuals exempted
Pennsylvania            1994,       All higher education   Campus police or               Chronological, daily     Names and
                        effective   institutions           security officers:             log of valid             addresses of arrested
Penn. Consolidated      1/11/95                            chronological logs to be       complaints, reported     persons and charges
Stat. Ann. 2502-3 and                                      public record, available       crimes and               against them
2502-5                                                     for inspection without         responses, charges
                                                           charge to the public           filed, and disposition   Identification
                                                           during business hours          of charges, if           specifically not
                                                           and at other reasonable        reasonably available     required: any names
                                                           times; may charge a                                     or addresses other
                                                           reasonable fee for                                      than those of persons
                                                           copies                                                  arrested

                                                           Local and state police                                  Juveniles must be
                                                           must provide arrest                                     identified only if
                                                           information for the                                     adjudicated as adults
                                                           college to include in the
                                                           log

                                                           Penalty: attorney general
                                                           may bring action to
                                                           compel compliance for
                                                           willful violation or failure
                                                           to comply promptly with
                                                           a court order to comply;
                                                           civil penalty of not over
                                                           $10,000
Tennessee               Effective   All higher education   Each higher education          Chronological daily      Names and
                        1/1/94      institutions with a    institution with a police or   log of all reported      addresses of persons
49 Tenn. Code Ann.                  police or security     security department            crimes against           arrested
7-2206                              department             composed of state,             persons or property,
                                                           private, or contract           date, time, general      Information
                                                           employees: keep and            location, charges        specifically not
                                                           maintain an easily             filed, and names of      required unless
                                                           understood,                    arrested persons         otherwise provided by
                                                           chronological daily log;                                law: names of
                                                           entries are public                                      persons reporting,
                                                           records and are to be                                   victims, witnesses, or
                                                           available free during                                   uncharged suspects
                                                           business hours and at                                   or other information
                                                           other reasonable times                                  related to investigation
                                                           for inspection by the
                                                           public
                                                                                                                              (continued)




                                           Page 20                                             GAO/HEHS-97-52 College Campus Security
                                              Appendix II
                                              Provisions of State Open Campus Crime
                                              Record Laws




                                                             Officials                                            Identification to be
                                                             involved/required           Information to be        provided/
State                  Date           Institutions covered   actions/penalties           covered                  individuals exempted
Virginia               Private        Public and private     Campus police (who          Criminal incident        Names and
                       colleges:      higher education       must meet training and      information containing   addresses of persons
Private colleges:      1994; public   institutions           other requirements for      date, time, and          arrested for felonies
23-232.2 Code of Va;   colleges:                             state law enforcement       general location of      or misdemeanors
public colleges:       1992                                  officers and, in the case   alleged crime;           involving assault,
under Va. Freedom of                                         of public colleges, may     charges filed against    battery, or moral
Information Act [COV                                         exercise police power       arrested persons; and    turpitude
2.1-342]                                                     over any property owned     injuries, damages, or
                                                             or controlled by the        property loss suffered   Identification not
                                                             institution and adjacent                             specifically required
                                                             rights of way): maintain                             when disclosure is
                                                             adequate arrest,                                     prohibited by law or
                                                             investigative, reportable                            when the information
                                                             incident, and noncriminal                            is likely to jeopardize
                                                             incident records; records                            an ongoing criminal
                                                             to be open, during                                   investigation or an
                                                             regular business hours,                              individual’s safety or
                                                             to state citizens,                                   result in destruction of
                                                             students of the college,                             evidence or flight of a
                                                             students’ parents, and                               suspect
                                                             the media
West Virginia          1992           All institutions of    Security officer or any    Nature, date, time,       Identification required
                                      higher education       other officer of the       and general location      is not specified.
W. Va. Code 18B-4-5a                                         institution: provide       of the criminal offense
                                                             information to the public                            Information may be
                                                             within 10 days on any                                withheld upon
                                                             properly reported,                                   certification of need to
                                                             credible, alleged crimes                             protect the
                                                             (as defined in the federal                           investigation, but in
                                                             Crime Awareness and                                  no event after the
                                                             Campus Security Act), or                             arrest.
                                                             crimes reported by the
                                                             local police as having                               Identification
                                                             occurred on the                                      specifically not
                                                             college’s property                                   required: name of
                                                                                                                  victim




                                              Page 21                                         GAO/HEHS-97-52 College Campus Security
Appendix III

Comments From the Department of
Education




               Page 22     GAO/HEHS-97-52 College Campus Security
Appendix III
Comments From the Department of
Education




Page 23                           GAO/HEHS-97-52 College Campus Security
Appendix IV

GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments


                  Charles M. Novak, Evaluator-in-Charge, (206) 287-4794
GAO Contacts      Susie Anschell, Evaluator, (206) 287-4828


                  The following staff made significant contributions to this report: Meeta
Acknowledgments   Sharma, Senior Evaluator; Stanley G. Stenersen, Senior Evaluator; and
                  Roger J. Thomas, Senior Attorney.




(104860)          Page 24                                  GAO/HEHS-97-52 College Campus Security
Ordering Information

The first copy of each GAO report and testimony is free.
Additional copies are $2 each. Orders should be sent to the
following address, accompanied by a check or money order
made out to the Superintendent of Documents, when
necessary. VISA and MasterCard credit cards are accepted, also.
Orders for 100 or more copies to be mailed to a single address
are discounted 25 percent.

Orders by mail:

U.S. General Accounting Office
P.O. Box 6015
Gaithersburg, MD 20884-6015

or visit:

Room 1100
700 4th St. NW (corner of 4th and G Sts. NW)
U.S. General Accounting Office
Washington, DC

Orders may also be placed by calling (202) 512-6000
or by using fax number (301) 258-4066, or TDD (301) 413-0006.

Each day, GAO issues a list of newly available reports and
testimony. To receive facsimile copies of the daily list or any
list from the past 30 days, please call (202) 512-6000 using a
touchtone phone. A recorded menu will provide information on
how to obtain these lists.

For information on how to access GAO reports on the INTERNET,
send an e-mail message with "info" in the body to:

info@www.gao.gov

or visit GAO’s World Wide Web Home Page at:

http://www.gao.gov




PRINTED ON    RECYCLED PAPER
United States                       Bulk Rate
General Accounting Office      Postage & Fees Paid
Washington, D.C. 20548-0001           GAO
                                 Permit No. G100
Official Business
Penalty for Private Use $300

Address Correction Requested