The Clery Act – Understanding how it impacts your operations
- Written by Amy Dinsmore
- February 2 2016
Knowledge is power. In academia, this idea usually centers around teaching students so they are prepared for their careers. But the maxim also applies to law enforcement efforts on campus. Security and police units serving institutions of higher education can use reports of criminal activity on campus to keep students aware of the risks they face. The Clery Act has made this crime education process mandatory.
Reporting on crime isn’t simple, and document management software can play a critical role in helping law enforcement agencies that serve academia comply with the standards set forth in the Clery Act.
What is the Clery Act?
At its simplest, the Clery Act focuses on reporting. In the aftermath of a grisly sexual assault at Lehigh University, lawmakers came together, with the encouragement of parents, to create the Campus Security Act of 1990. This evolved into the Clery Act and was amended on a couple of occasions throughout the ’90s. The core principles are fairly straightforward, as the act mandates that campus police or security units document and report crimes that take place:
- On campus.
- On public property near campus.
- In off-campus buildings/properties owned or managed by the institution.
Details of the crime must be documented by law enforcement personnel and processed into statistical reports that are made available to the campus community at large. The focus is on students , and the goal is to keep them aware of criminal activity on campus so they can take appropriate preventative measures. The Clery Act is tied to federal funding at institutes of higher education, and any college or university accepting funds must comply.
What does the Clery Act mean for you?
Very simply, the Clery Act means that you must have your documentation policies in order. Policy management is critical here as your officers and security guards must be trained to:
- Collect detailed accounts of criminal activity.
- Understand privacy requirements surrounding the act of making that data public.
- Maintain consistent documentation best practices so end-of-year reporting isn’t a nightmare.
- Handle instances of sexual assault with the proper understanding of victim’s rights.
- Collaborate across agency boundaries – between campus security/police and local law enforcement – to gather relevant data.
Policy and training management go a long way in ensuring your officers are equipped to properly follow documentation best practices to simplify Clery Act reporting. Going digital can make all of this easier by allowing officers involved in campus security to streamline documentation and view policy and training materials in the most accessible way possible when needed.