Clery Act: Campus crime logs required for public, private universities, colleges receiving federal funding

Oklahoma’s Open Records Act doesn’t require state universities and colleges to keep a public log of reported crimes.

But a federal law does.

The Clery Act requires public and private post-secondary schools that receive federal funding and maintain a police or security department to keep a daily crime log that is open to public inspection and is readily understandable. (34 CFR 668.46(f)) (20 USC §1092(f)(4)(A)(B))

The statute also imposes a number of important conditions on those crime logs that differ from the Open Records Act’s requirements for such records, including:

  • Crimes must be added to the log within two business days of their initial report to the campus police or the campus security department.
    • This time requirement also covers any addition to an entry or change in the disposition of a complaint. For example, federal education officials note, if the disposition of a crime is “pending” and an arrest is made later, the school has two business days to update the disposition on the original entry.
    • Schools aren’t required to update dispositions for crimes more than 60 days old.
    • A business day is defined Monday through Friday, except for days when the school is closed.
    • The only exceptions to this rule are if the disclosure is prohibited by law or would jeopardize the confidentiality of the victim.

  • The log is required to include the nature, date (occurred and reported), time and general location of each crime, and its disposition if known.
    • The description of the location must mean something to the campus community.
    • But the location must not lead to identification of the victim.

  • Victims’ names must be redacted. This requirement supersedes the state Open Records Act, which has no such provision.
  • Schools may temporarily withhold information only if there is clear and convincing evidence that the release of information would:
      • Jeopardize an ongoing investigation;
      • Jeopardize the safety of an individual;
      • Cause a suspect to flee or evade detection; or
      • Result in the destruction of evidence.

    • The school may withhold only the information that could cause the adverse effect.
    • That information must be disclosed once the adverse effect is no longer likely.
    • The person deciding to withhold the information should document the reason.

  • The crime log for the most-recent 60 days must be open to public inspection, upon request, during normal business hours.
    • Schools may not require a written request.
    • Anyone may have access to the log, including media not associated with the school.
    • Logs older than 60 days must be made available for inspection within two business days of the request.

ADDITIONAL SOURCES:

Joey Senat, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
OSU School of Media & Strategic Communications

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, or its board of directors. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.

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