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November 19, 2009



DiNapoli: CUNY Colleges Underreport Campus Crime

Colleges Kept Inaccurate Crime Statistics, Dropped Violations from Security Reports


City University of New York (CUNY) campuses are improperly reporting crimes committed on college grounds, according to an audit released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Five out of six CUNY colleges visited by DiNapoli’s auditors did not comply with federal regulations by underreporting criminal incidents—including burglaries, aggravated assaults, and other misconduct—that should have been made publicly available. The five colleges cited were Baruch, Hunter, John Jay School of Criminal Justice, Medgar Evers and Queens.

“When students are on campus, they and their families should have confidence that the school is giving a full and accurate picture of campus safety,” DiNapoli said. “It’s very troubling to find out that some CUNY schools are inaccurately reporting crimes on campus. Faculty, staff and taxpayers also have a right to know all the facts. In fact, the law requires an accurate reporting of crimes on campuses.”

Under the federal Clery Act, both colleges and universities are required to release an annual security report (ASR) detailing crime statistics for the three most recent calendar years and disclosing safety policies and procedures. Schools must make the ASR available to students and employees by October 1, as well as report crime statistics to the federal Department of Education, which publishes the statistics online at www.ope.ed.gov/security.

DiNapoli’s auditors checked public safety records at six CUNY campuses for the accuracy of the ASR and other aspects of compliance with the Clery Act, and found a number of inconsistencies and problems. Queens College topped the list of campuses that underreported crime, neglecting to report 27 of 33 incidents—including 15 burglaries—on its campus. John Jay College of Criminal Justice did not report 19 of 20 incidents, and Baruch College omitted 16 of 17 reportable incidents. Four other CUNY campuses also omitted a total of 52 disciplinary violations, or incidents involving a violation of the law that did not result in arrests. Two of the campuses have had these issues even after a CUNY internal review in 1999.

Other problems noted included:

  • Three vehicle thefts, two robberies and a burglary listed in New York City College of Technology’s ASR, none of which were reported to the Department of Education;
  • Three colleges (Hunter, John Jay and Medgar Evers) did not properly notify their communities that ASRs were available;
  • More than 250 incident reports were not reported in the 2007 crime log at Hunter College.

DiNapoli recommended that CUNY officials:

  • Ensure their campuses comply with Clery Act requirements each year;
  • Develop a standardized reporting approach for preparing ASRs;
  • Provide formal training to public safety officers on writing incident reports and crime logs in compliance with the Clery Act;
  • Require the internal CUNY auditor to perform follow-up audits on the 1999 recommendations.

City University administrators agreed with the majority of the recommendations in a response to the audit. Visit www.osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/093010/09s4.htm to read the full audit and CUNY’s response.

DiNapoli’s CUNY campus crimes audit is part of his statewide examination of crime statistics at State-funded colleges. Last year, DiNapoli issued an audit of crime statistics at State University of New York campuses that also found similar problems showing that inaccurate reporting is a statewide issue. Click here to read that audit.

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