College crime log fails to meet federal guidelines

Alex Weidenhof, News Editor

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Allegheny College’s daily crime log, which in accordance with federal guidelines is supposed to include crimes which have occurred in the last 60 days, has not fully complied with these guidelines regarding the timeline of adding crimes to the log.

Colleges with a security department, according to the 2016 edition of The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting, available on the U.S. Department of Education’s website, have a limited amount of time to add newly reported crimes to the daily crime log, which is mandated by the Clery Act.

“A crime must be entered into the log within two business days of when it was reported to the campus police or security department,” the handbook says. “This includes crimes that are reported directly to the campus police or security department, as well as crimes that are initially reported to another campus security authority or to a local law enforcement agency, which subsequently reports them to the campus police or security department.”

The daily crime log must include a wider range of crimes than the annual Clery Report, which requires colleges to report the number of specific crimes—murder, sex offenses, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, arson, arrests by law enforcement, liquor law violations, drug-related violations, unlawful possession of weapons and hate crimes—that occurred within the school’s “geographic area.”

“Crime log entries include all crimes reported to the campus police or security department for the required geographic locations, not just Clery Act crimes,” the handbook says.

In addition to requiring more crimes be listed, Director of Public Safety Ali Awadi said the daily crime log has a wider geographic range than the Clery Report.

“Any crime that occurs on campus or surrounding the campus that’s in our geographical area, which basically means—including those houses on the streets—we would have to identify that in the Clery crime log,” Awadi said.

Awadi said the college “usually” abides by the timetable set forth in the handbook.

“We usually update it between one to two days—sometimes daily, actually—and we eliminate the days that are over 60 days,” Awadi said.

Awadi said he believes the college is required to update the crime log within 24 hours of a report being filed.

“We’re actually really good at that,” Awadi said.

A crime must be entered into the log within two business days of when it was reported to the campus police or security department.”

— The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting, 2016 edition

A “police assist” that occurred in the campus center on Sunday, Nov. 6, did not appear on the crime log on the afternoon of Thursday, Nov. 10. Three business days had elapsed at that time since the crime was reported.

At 1:00 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 4, an incident of “criminal mischief” was reported at parking lot 28, according to the Oct. 13, crime log. The incident had still not been added to the crime log on the night of Friday, Oct. 7.

On Thursday, Sept. 8, the log did not include several incidents from the previous week. Three incidents for which a report was created on Friday, Sept. 2,—which the Sept. 22, crime log cites as “theft,” “public drunkenness” and “underage consumption”—had not been added to the Sept. 8, crime log.

An incident on Saturday, Sept. 3, in which an ambulance was called for a student, and one on that Sunday, Sept. 4, where a student was referred to the dean for “underage consumption” did not appear on the Sept. 8, crime log either.

Awadi said he has implemented changes in the way the Office of Public Safety reports the daily log since beginning his work at the college.

“I took it over and I cleaned a lot of stuff out,” Awadi said. “That’s why you only see one page now.”

One change Awadi made was to the time span which the log covers. Before he began as the director of public safety, Awadi said the daily crime log included approximately one year’s worth of crimes. Now it includes the past 60 days, the minimum required by federal guidelines.

Awadi said some instances where the crime log was not updated within two business days were prior to the changes he implemented, including one incident for which Awadi sent out a “timely warning” to the Allegheny community on Sept. 13.

“This was before I started scrutinizing this stuff and clearing it up,” Awadi said.

On Sept. 13, according to the email he sent out, an incident of “indecent exposure” occurred near Caflisch Hall.

“Public safety officers responded to the location of the perpetrator, questioned him, and he was asked to leave the campus,” Awadi wrote in the email. “The case was further investigated by public safety and the Meadville police, and the suspect was apprehended and arrested this afternoon.”

The incident should have been reported in the log by Sept. 22, but was not included in any version of the log. Public safety did create an incident report for the crime, Awadi said.

Federal guidelines also require the college to provide an itemized list of crimes older than 60 days upon request, giving the college two business days to provide such a list while making the list of crimes that occurred within the past 60 days publicly available. The college’s 2016 Annual Security and Fire Report includes this provision.

“Any request for copies of the daily crime and fire log after 60 days will be provided within two days of the request,” the report reads.

Awadi said he does not know where he can access logs of crimes older than 60 days.

“I actually shredded everything. … I’ll ask Pam [Teasdale, public safety communications officer,] if she still has them,” Awadi said.

Overall, Awadi said he believes that, despite any shortcomings or mistakes the office has made, it generally does a good job of abiding by all guidelines.

“If we were all perfect, we wouldn’t have any issues in this world, would we?” Awadi said.

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