“The decrease in [certain criminal] statistics is believed to be occurring as a result of the new style residence halls. Students do not use the hallways and public areas as much in the new residence halls which reduce the unlocked and unattended residence hall rooms. Subsequently burglaries, thefts and the observance of illegal activity are reduced.” – Chief Bicking
The Clery Act report is put together by five leaders of the Department of Public Safety, Chief Michael Bicking said. Bicking and Captain Mike Vining review the report. Det. James Kalavik reviews reports of hate crimes. Sgt. Matt Paris, criminal investigator, is the officer in charge of criminal investigations. Sgt. Rob Herzog, compliance officer, puts together the report. The report is reviewed again at the end of each year for accuracy, prior to releasing the crime statistics publicly.
Herzog is currently working on the Clery Act for his sixth year as he works on compiling the numbers for the current year. This year’s crime statistics will include College Arms as it will be shown in the numbers reporting residential facilities. The Clery Act also reports crimes of the three years previous. To keep the Clery Act report up-to-date Herzog reviews the crimes reported from the day before. Taking reports from the last 24 hours, he classifies statistics in the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) and Clery. His job is to categorize the reported offenses by their definition according to the Clery Act. Each year of crime statistics is organized in a four-inch binder. Herzog makes a documented note to explain the reasoning for classifying an offense and any additional notes. The notes help officers recognize why decisions were made for the Clery Act and also for future reference of classifying offenses.
Tab marks are used to identify cases that the compliance officer questions how to categorize. Some classifications are simple, Herzog said, while other cases call for using a reference. A handbook includes typical scenarios that assist compliance officers to categorize offenses. During review checks, officers aim to explain how an investigation leads to a classification of the offense, Bicking said. DPS is required to issue safety alerts in a timely matter for certain crimes, reported to them or local police agencies, occurring in geographic locations defined by the Clery Act. These crimes include murder and non-negligent manslaughter, negligent manslaughter, forcible and non-forcible sex offenses, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft and arson. Geographic locations include on-campus, non-campus and public property.
DPS issues warnings via e-mail to enrolled students and employees, text-message, and posts in buildings and on the DPS website. While there are additional criteria calling for issuing a timely report, Bicking said they decide if there still is a “posing danger” to those on-campus, and if so, “then we put out [a safety alert] as quickly as possible.” DPS issues safety alerts even when not required by the Clery Act, Bicking said. They consider if students frequently use the off-campus location of the reported crime. Bicking said DPS sends out a safety alert, and by making the annoucement public, it will “prevent a danger to our students and faculty.” “It’s our mission to provide a safe environment,” he said.
The Clery Act is complied with reports to DPS from local law enforcement agencies, Division of Residence Life and Housing, Judicial Affairs, the Department of Human Resources, Women’s Center, Student Health Center, and the Office of Institutional Research.
Ginger Rae Dunbar is a fifth-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at RD655287@wcupa.edu.