In part one of this series, we reviewed how the Clery Act helps institutions clarify their organizational goals. In this installment, we'll go over best practices for managing notifications and compiling all of the critical documentation needed for an annual report.
Although some state and federal reporting requirements mandate compliance officers to include identifying details on internal reports, external reports should aim for anonymity.
While assessing how much detail to include in external communications, it is essential to weigh the benefits of disclosing personal information that may reveal the identity of either party. Unless the victim gives permission or there is an imminent threat to the population, specifics such as names or whether the complainant chooses to follow up with law enforcement should remain confidential. Disclosing this type of information en mass may violate FERPA laws, discourage future reporting, and instill a chilling effect on the student population.
Collect Crime Reports and Statistics
Compiling the necessary information for complete Clery reports is vital to gaining an accurate measure of campus security and safety. It’s essential to provide all staff with the proper training and tools to allow for consistent organization, swift reporting, and thorough analyzation of all Clery-specific incidents. Keep in mind, resource coordination and time allotments will vary depending on the size of the institution's safety staff. However, assigning a dedicated staff coordinator to regularly check-in with all CSA’s can help ensure accountability and reporting processes do not fall by the wayside.
Daily crime logs are also a critical component of Clery compliance. Maintaining transparent, organized, accessible, and easy-to-understand records of all incidents reported to security is paramount for keeping up with Clery best practices. Whether an institution has a security staff of 1 or 100, all crimes—alleged or witnessed—must be recorded in a daily log. Specifics such as date, location, time, and incident disposition must appear alongside every entry.
Another requirement for Clery reporting is for all institutions to make a “good faith effort” to collect geography-based crime statistics from state and local law enforcement agencies. Although the act does not mandate that a law enforcement agency comply with this request, it is nevertheless mandatory for the institution to document annual attempts to collect the data. If staff are unsure as to how to make such a request, they can obtain further information from the Clery Center for Campus Security’s website.
Issue Timely Warnings and Alerts
The Clery Act requires that all institutions divulge both response and evacuations procedures to ensure they are prepared to handle an emergency or threat. Constant review, modifications, and testing of these plans will allow for better control and continuous improvement of an institution’s emergency procedures. In addition to plan disclosure, there are two types of notifications required by the Clery Act: timely warnings and alerts. Both require the use of best practices and a common-sense approach.
Timely warnings are necessary to alert staff and students of a confirmed crime committed within Clery geography. Institutions should issue notifications about any Clery-classified crimes that pose a continuous threat to the campus community. In preparing timely warnings, institutions must weigh each event on a case-by-case basis and strive to provide recipients with pertinent and actionable information they can use to prevent themselves from becoming a victim.
Alerts encompass any confirmed event that poses an imminent hazard to the health and safety of staff and students. Severe weather, fires, chemical hazards, active shooters, bomb threats, and flu outbreaks all require an institute to send out immediate notifications. In setting up alerts, it is important to establish parameters regarding segmentation and delivery methods. Also, to avoid confusion, alerts should always be clear, direct, and brief.
Be sure to visit Omnigo's blog for the next installment in this series, Best Practices for Ensuring Clery Compliance: Part 3.