SACRAMENTO (AP) – The University of California violated federal law by underreporting campus crimes but has since corrected the problem, the U.S. Department of Education found in an investigation prompted by a series of newspaper articles.
Investigators found the system is now complying with the law after it used the wrong standards to determine what crimes were reported and improperly had campus police review crimes to decide whether they should be included in annual reports required under the federal Clery Act.
The department also found that only campus police reported crime data _ a task that should have been extended to other school authorities including deans, coaches and residence advisers.
The DOE investigation was launched in October 2000 after The Sacramento Bee reported that campuses ignored, misinterpreted or found loopholes to avoid the reporting requirements. The newspaper’s investigation focused on a discrepancy between a high number of sexual assaults believed to have occurred and the small number reported by the university’s nine campuses.
In a March 31 letter to UC President Richard Atkinson, DOE case management director James Castress said department investigators found the university was in compliance with the law. The department also reminded the university it could face fines or other punishments if it didn’t continue complying with the law.
The university said the Clery Act’s language made it hard to tell how to report crimes. A manual the university developed on how to report the statistics is now a national model, said UC spokesman Chuck McFadden.
“As a result, we have a better situation now than we’ve ever had,” McFadden said.
After the newspaper’s series, a national group called Security on Campus requested the federal probe.
S. Daniel Carter, vice president of the group, said more state universities are reporting statistics accurately as a result of increased scrutiny.
“We’re starting to see an understanding that there is a need for honest, forthright reporting to keep students safe,” Carter said.
The probe also looked at the California State University system, which was found to be in compliance with the federal law.