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What is the Clery Act?

The Clery Act aims to improve transparency about crime on campus for current and prospective staff and students.

Posted by Katie Yahnke on April 25th, 2019

In the 1980s, a young freshman named Jeanne Clery was sexually assaulted and murdered by another student at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.

Jeanne’s parents discovered that their daughter’s attack was only one of nearly 40 incidents at the school in the three years prior. Had they been aware of this statistic, the parents argued, Jeanne would’ve enrolled elsewhere.

Signed in 1990, the Clery Act aims to provide greater transparency around campus crime by legally requiring federally funded schools to track and disclose crime-related statistics.

Case management software helps schools to comply with federal regulations outlined in the Clery Act through effective investigations and reporting. Learn more here.

The most important requirements are to maintain a crime log, publish an Annual Security Report and establish an emergency notification system.


Maintain a Crime Log

Under the Clery Act, schools must maintain a log of reported crimes detailing the nature, date, time and location of the crime. Only certain crimes must be recorded, including:

  • Criminal offenses (homicide, sexual assault, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, etc.)
  • Hate crimes (intimidation, larceny theft, simple assault, property damage)
  • Violence Against Women Act offenses (domestic violence, dating violence, stalking)
  • Arrests for disciplinary action (weapons law violations, drug or liquor abuse violations)

And only crimes that occur in certain locations, including:

  • On campus (including student housing)
  • On public property within campus bounds
  • On public property immediately adjacent to the campus bounds
  • On property off campus but owned by the school and used frequently for educational purposes

The log must contain information for all Clery Act crimes occurring in the last 60 days. Records for crimes older than 60 days can be stored but, if a request to view is made, the log must be retrievable within two business days. Crime records must be kept for seven years.

Case management software is a great tool for logging campus crime data. It lets you track incidents and then break the data down by subject, offense or location for a clearer, more detailed overview of trends.


Annual Security Report

Federally funded universities and colleges must develop an Annual Security Report (ASR). The ASR must be distributed every October 1 to all current and prospective staff and students.

The report should contain:

  • Campus crime statistics for the last three calendar years
  • A summary of the school’s efforts to improve campus safety
  • Policy statements regarding crime reporting
  • Information about safety and security measures
  • Details about victim rights, resources and reporting tools
  • Prevention education and awareness programs

In the ASR, schools are expected to share statistics about campus crime and explain the steps they’re taking to improve the safety of staff and students. Many schools (including Glendale) are choosing to publish their ASR online so it’s accessible anytime.

Using case management software automates part of the report-writing process. The software makes it easy to track offenses and then export the data, charts and figures directly into the Annual Security Report.


Timely Warnings & Emergency Notifications

Colleges and universities are required to have procedures in place for both timely warnings and emergency notifications.

If a Clery Act crime poses a serious or ongoing threat to the campus community, school officials must issue a timely warning about the situation. If the crime causes immediate and significant danger, school officials must issue an emergency notification.

It is the school’s legal duty to have procedures in place for emergency responses, emergency notifications and testing.

RELATED: Tackling Sexual Harassment in Higher Education

Amendments to the Act

The most recent amendment to the Clery Act was the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. The purpose of this amendment was to clarify existing requirements, expand the types of crimes needing recording and improve victim support procedures.

Violations and Penalties

A Clery Act complaint outlines the ways that a school has violated the Clery Act. There is no statute of limitations for filing this type of complaint and the complainant can be a student, faculty or non-faculty staff member. The complainant also has the option of staying anonymous.

If a school is found guilty of violating the Clery Act, they can be fined up to $55,907 per violation and may be suspended from receiving any or all federal financial aid from the U.S. Department of Education.

Clery Act violations are taken very seriously. In 2016, one institution was fined $2.4 million. It’s important that schools understand what the law entails and their legal duty to comply.

Katie Yahnke
Katie Yahnke

Marketing Writer

Katie is a former marketing writer at i-Sight. She writes on topics that range from fraud, corporate security and workplace investigations to corporate culture, ethics and compliance.

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