OPINION: Clery report doesn’t show full picture

The incidents in the Safety and Security report differ from what is reported in the crime log due to certain guidelines of the clery report. The clery report leaves out pertinent crimes recorded in the crime log that should be included, Kristi Shields says. Graphic by Kristi Shields.

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The annual safety and security report that all universities contribute to does not accurately portray the number of crimes that happen on college campuses.

When students and their parents are researching which schools to attend, they should be better informed about campus crime statistics. The information gathered about the crime needs to be represented in a clearer format than solely the clery report.

According to the The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reports, the clery report is strictly required to record any crimes under the categories of criminal offenses, hate crimes, VAWA offenses — any incidents of domestic violence, dating violence and stalking — and arrests and referrals for disciplinary action.

Due to the specific guidelines of what falls under these categories, not every report that should be included is included.

According to the Dixie State University clery report, two cases of burglaries were reported in 2018, but according to the crime log there were actually four cases of burglary reported.

The same goes for assault, sex offense and harassment. The clery report shows one case of aggravated assault and one report of domestic violence in 2018, but the crime log shows four cases of assault, two cases of sex offense and two cases of harassment.

Four incidents went unreported in the clery report, probably due to the technical terms of the clery report guidelines compared to what these incidents actually consisted of. 

This doesn’t mean the incidents should be left out of the clery report. It’s not right for these incidents to go unreported in the clery report because of the distinct technical terms.

Chief of Police Blair Barfuss said determining what goes into the clery report has a lot to do with the geography of the incident. But just because the crime may happen two blocks away from campus, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be included.

The clery report demonstrates the bare minimum of what crimes occur on or near campus. If the university is going to present the clery report as a factor in determining how safe a university is, then we should get the whole picture of what goes on.

The clery report is set up to show the least number of crimes possible because it has so many restrictions on what qualifies to be included in the report.

We are shown the crimes on a microscopic level, which is doing a disservice to us students and our parents.

It’s important for us to know what crime is happening around our campus. It’s important for us to be aware of when or where we’re more at risk of being a victim of a crime. It’s important for our parents to know we’re safe, especially if we’re in a different city or state than them.

It’s the university’s job to relay this information to us in the most accurate format so we will see it.

The DSUPD is active on social media; it should use this resource as a way to better inform us of what crimes are happening around us and what we can do to keep ourselves safe.

The university could create another spreadsheet where it includes incidents from the crime log that don’t fit into the guidelines of the clery report but are still important to acknowledge.

Barfuss said for this to be an option, he needs engagement between the department, students and staff.

“Reporting numbers would be really easy for our records administrator,” Barfuss said. 

It is possible for the DSU Police Department to compose more reports about crimes happening around campus — more than just the clery report once per year — but student associations need to be more involved in giving direction.