UC Police Announce New Policy on Crime Reports

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Police at UC Berkeley announced yesterday a new policy requesting that school officials report instances of crimes in an effort to compile more accurate records of campus crime.

Under increased scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Education following allegations a year and a half ago that UC was not accurately recording campus crime statistics, UC police are asking school officials, such as health workers, Tang Center employees and residential advisors, to report all crimes committed on campus of which they become aware.

The crime report is required by the 1998 Jeanne Clery Act, which requires colleges and universities receiving federal funding to report crime statistics. Although the police department has always gathered data from school officials, it plans to communicate with school officials more rigorously this year.

In a memo to campus administrators yesterday, UC police Chief Victoria Harrison requested help in generating a list of campus officials required to report crimes.

UC police Capt. Bill Cooper said school officials are often the first to know of campus crimes not reported to police. Sexual assaults in particular are often reported to school officials rather than police because victims want to keep the event private or are confused about what action to take, he said.

"Often when we're seeing somebody, the assault just happened," said Paula Flamm, manager of UC Berkeley social services. "A lot of what we see on campus is nonconsensual sexual activity while students are under the influence. A lot of people don't register that this was a crime."

In compiling the data, UC police will be collecting numerical statistics, dates, times and locations of criminal activity. Names are not collected to ensure the anonymity of victims, Cooper said.

The Sacramento Bee sparked controversy in September 2000 with a series of articles accusing UC Davis of underreporting sexual assault statistics. UC Davis' crime report only listed four sexual assaults, but 186 students sought counseling from the campus health services as sexual assault victims.

Security on Campus Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating students and parents about crime at universities, filed the initial complaint against the UC campuses and launched its own investigation.

According to the findings, UC Berkeley was one of the few campuses in California that appeared to comply with the Clery Act. Additionally, it was the "only (campus) in the entire UC system" to satisfy Clery requirements, said Daniel Carter, vice president of Security on Campus Inc.

Carter said that often campus administrators cover up reports of sexual assault to protect the university's reputation and to avoid deterring prospective students.

An April 2001 report released by UC's Clery Act Task Force said the underreporting at UC Davis was unintentional. The report attributed statistical inconsistencies to the unclear language of the act. Additionally, the Clery Act has been subject to numerous revisions, which led to confusion among UC police, according to the task force.

"I would argue that negligence to that degree has the same result as intentional underreporting," Carter said.

Another reported problem is that the majority of sexual assaults go unreported, Flamm said. University Health Services employees often hear about sexual assaults informally, but cannot record them because the victims do not report them or seek medical attention, she added.

In February, Assemblymember Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, introduced a bill to the Assembly requiring a systemwide investigation of UC and CSU compliance with the Clery Act. The legislation has yet to be approved.


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