Coming in ahead of an Oct. 1 deadline, Penn State recently released its annual “Policies, Safety & U” report — a document the school’s required to produce annually under the Clery Act, a federal campus safety law.
Shortly after the Jerry Sandusky case surfaced last fall, the Department of Education initiated an investigation into Penn State’s compliance with the Clery Act. The results of that investigation have yet to be released. Additionally, investigators behind the Freeh report pointed to serious deficiencies in the university’s approach to following the law for more than a decade.
That said, the university has in the past year stepped up its attention paid to complying with the safety law — and Penn State deserves credit for that. The Freeh report pointed out that Clery Act oversight fell largely to one person, who wasn’t formally trained before taking on the position and who also had other responsibilities. But Penn State took a huge step by hiring Gabriel Gates as its Clery compliance coordinator. It’s invaluable to have someone who can keep track of Penn State’s Clery Act safety measures and doesn’t have to worry about other job duties.
Additionally, this year’s campus safety report is longer and more detailed than those of past years — another testament to the positive steps the university is taking to make up for areas where it might have fallen short in the past.
The 2012 report includes more thorough information outlining procedures for reporting crimes and other incidents. It also includes an expanded section outlining “Campus Security Authorities” — or those who, under the Clery Act, have “the authority and the duty to take action or respond to particular issues on behalf of the institution.”
According to the report, Penn State has several hundred who meet this definition, and the report includes information on several major reporting offices. Among other differences, this year’s report also shows a spike in the number of forcible sex offenses reported in 2011 — 30, up from five in 2010 and 10 in 2009, though some of last year’s figures actually happened prior to 2011 and stemmed from an audit done for previous years. Figures for other incidents such as aggravated assault and theft are also broken down in the report.
At the end of the day, though, these efforts are about more than just putting together a report to satisfy federal requirements — the report is meant to provide a portrait of the safety situation on and around Penn State’s campus. Students should take advantage of the information available in the document, found on http://www.police.psu.edu/cleryact/
Penn State’s report isn’t just called “Policies, Safety & U” because it makes for a convenient acronym — it’s to our benefit to pay close attention to what’s inside.