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Best Practices for Ensuring Clery Compliance: Part 1

Jim Schumann

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October 28, 2019

Reporting campus crimes accurately is not only key to preventing crime and ensuring safety on your campus—it’s required by law. Yet tracking, managing, and reporting Clery-related incidents to meet federal reporting requirements can be difficult and time consuming. So how can you simplify and improve this process?

This three-part blog series will detail these best practices you can follow to better ensure your organization's Clery compliance:

  1. Empower safety and awareness
  2. Identify compliance challenges
  3. Communicate staff responsibility
  4. Maintain confidentiality
  5. Collect crime reports and statistics 
  6. Issue timely warnings and alerts
  7. Promote awareness through education and outreach
  8. Publish annual security reports
  9. Pull it all together for a comprehensive approach

Before we dive in, let’s do a quick review of the Clery Act.

Clery Act Overview

The Jeanne Clery Act is a consumer protection law named for a student who was brutally assaulted and murdered in her dorm in 1986. In response to the need to provide transparent, accurate, information regarding the crime statistics and campus safety policies of higher education institutions, congress passed the Clery Act of 1990. This law requires higher education institutions to report instances of murder, manslaughter, hate crimes, drug violations, and vehicle thefts as well as other crimes or safety incidents, such as fires, that affect campus security. In 2013, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) amendments further expanded the Clery Act to include complaints of sexual assault, stalking, dating, and domestic violence.

Clery reporting guidelines apply to all higher education institutions that receive Title IV funding from the government. In addition to reporting crime in the classroom, Clery requirements extend to all facilities run by the institution to include sporting venues, residence halls, cafeterias, health clinics, and any institutionally sponsored activity on or off grounds. The law also encompasses all crimes occurring within campus vicinity carrying the potential to impact students or staff.

While adhering to all the requirements might be a challenge, the reporting process can lead to significant discoveries. Let’s examine how the Clery Act helps institutions recognize areas for improvement, establish goals, and unlock opportunities for long-term, positive change.

Empower Safety and Awareness

Clery reporting is both ethical and necessary. The act helps safeguard students and inform them and their families of the presence of on-campus violence. But besides helping ensure the safety of all university stakeholders, Clery also provides security managers and compliance officers with an opportunity to reduce reporting barriers while supplying insight into their institution’s standings and safety practices. In as much, the act can further the development of advanced safety protocols and shed light on the adverse trends affecting the community.

Since instituting this act, campus safety has significantly improved in the form of awareness, communication, and the development of repeatable, successful practices for identifying, preventing, and addressing crime.

Identify Compliance Challenges

Staying in compliance with Clery can be taxing. Aside from keeping pace with reporting deadlines—coordinating staff, compiling evidence, investigating claims, ensuring confidentially, and evaluating what and when to report is a substantial task for already over-burdened staff members. Adding to the challenges, the act is subject to legislative changes and broad interpretations of the requirements.

However, failure to comply can result in unnecessary safety risks, reputational damage, loss of funding, and fines up to $57,317 per violation. While the education system is notorious for asking staff to do more with less, there are ways to streamline the process while ensuring effectiveness. With that in mind, below is a list of best practices to help campus safety and compliance officers stay up to date on the ins and outs of Clery Reporting.

Communicate Staff Responsibility

One of the biggest hurdles to Clery reporting is the ability to identify which campus security authorities must report. Aside from police, security officers, and property monitors, any staff member with significant responsibility for student and campus activities or anyone who is authorized to receive complaints should funnel the report to the proper channels to ensure each incident is recorded, investigated, and addressed while also guaranteeing that the victim receives adequate support.

In keeping with Clery best practices, compliance officers should make every effort to ensure all responsible parties are aware of their designations and duties.


Be sure to visit Omnigo's blog for the next installment in this series, Best Practices for Ensuring Clery Compliance: Part 2.

Read How St. Olaf College Ensures the Safety of Their Students

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