Of the 449 incidents reported at Central Oregon Community College last school year, only 36 made it into the annual campus security report. One incident that won’t make this year’s report involves a student who showed up to class smelling of alcohol and carrying a loaded semi-automatic handgun at COCC’s Redmond campus.
In order for an incident to make it into the annual report, it has to be considered a “reportable crime” as defined by the Clery Act, a federal campus crime reporting statute. Despite violating
COCC’s alcohol and weapons policies, the Redmond student wasn’t breaking any state laws—something he would have to do for the incident to end up on the annual report.
Enacted in 1990, the Clery Act helped bring campus crime to the attention of faculty, staff and students by requiring colleges to release an annual security report, as well as keeping crime
logs and documenting statistics of campus crime.
“It’s an initial good attempt to inform students of crime on higher institutions,” said COCC Campus Public Safety Coordinator Jim Bennett.
If students are looking for an accurate reflection of campus crime, however, the Clery Act’s report may not be enough.
A reported theft on campus, for instance, will only appear on the report if it is considered burglary—theft comprised of unlawful entry into a building to commit an offense. Motor vehicle burglaries on the other hand, won’t show up on the report. Additional cases that don’t count include simple assaults, threats and harassment, among others.
Although the offenses that make it on the reports are considered more significant than other incidents, it is sometimes unclear
where to make the distinction.
“It all depends on what a person considers significant,” said Bennett. “It is truly in the eye of the beholder.”
Despite these ambiguities, the Clery Act still serves many of its intended tasks.
“There is a whole side of the Clery Act that people don’t see,” said Bennett. “It goes beyond numbers: It’s a mandate for policies and procedures dealing with crime on campus.”
Before the act, colleges didn’t have any policies or procedures addressing campus crime. The act also requires colleges to provide crime logs—records listing all reported cases, like the Redmond incident—upon request.
You can contact Tobey Veenstra at firstname.lastname@example.org.