Trustees and police chief take measures to avoid Clery Report mishaps in the future
Posted Dec. 3, 2014 | Printed Dec. 1, 2014
Crystal Olmedo | Asst. News Editor
Riverside City College missed its deadline to make a complete Clery Report accessible to students, staff and faculty by Oct. 1, but the general consensus from those involved is that they have taken the incident as “learning experience,” and they plan to move forward by widening the lines of communication.
Jim Miyashiro, Riverside Community College District police chief, presented the crime statistics for 2013 at the Nov. 18 Board of Trustees meeting at Norco College. The report showed a decrease in criminal incidents when compared to the previous years’ reports, and Trustees Mary Figueroa and Virginia Blumenthal thanked Miyashiro and the RCCD Police Department for their efforts in keeping RCCD’s campuses and surrounding areas safe.
During his Clery presentation, Miyashiro commended Viewpoints for finding the discrepancies in RCC’s 2013 Clery Report. He also affirmed that the difference in the figure for drug law violations on public property surrounding the Riverside City College area was due to a “typo.”
Penalties for Noncompliance of Clery reporting requirements and nondisclosure of Clery crime statistics can range from $27,500 to $35,000 per instance.
The likelihood of a fine is low according to Janet Green, and Aaron Brown, RCCD’s vice chancellor of Business and Financial Services.
“There could be a fine, but from Miyashiro’s standpoint the likelihood is remote. Even if RCC were subject to a fine there is usually an appeal process,” Brown said.
According to Brown, RCCD does not have insurance for this particular circumstance if a fine is issued.
“So, the funds would come from a couple of potential sources, depending on how large it is,” Brown said. “It could be taken from the general fund or it could be split funded with the Safety and Police Department, because the police force is partially funded by the Parking Services fund.”
If RCC is issued a fine, the correspondence would go to Brown’s attention and a meeting with Miyashiro would take place in which the fine would be assessed, and there would be a timeline for payment.
“We would exhaust all avenues for a potential waiver, and make sure that we’ve got our process in place so that it doesn’t happen again, and pay the fine,” Brown said.
A partial Clery Report was submitted before the deadline with the information available to the Miyashiro at that time. According to Janet Green, Miyashiro met with a Clery representative and was advised to submit all the statistics he had and to add the supplementary information when it was received.
“Miyashiro has a massive job (in compiling the Clery Report) and he has to work with and wait for other agencies to give him statistics to complete the report. The process needs to be revamped,” Green said. “Mistakes are going to happen and when you work with the public you have to learn to take criticism as constructive criticism. This is definitely an eye opener for everyone. The chief has told me personally that he is more than willing to make the necessary changes that would improve the Clery reporting process.”
RCCD administrators recognize a need for prompt reporting and heightened collaboration among all involved in the process of Clery reporting.
“RCCD’s website and RCC’s website contained 10 years worth of crime statistics,” Robin Steinback, RCCD’s interim vice chancellor of Educational Services and Workforce Development and Planning said. “It is best to provide comparative statistics for more than one year at a time for all who are interested in the crime statistics. We provide more data, although it was separately, than most colleges will. The goal for the future is for data to be provided in a comparative way, to be posted early, and to get the notices out to our community before the deadline.”
Miyashiro confirmed that he met with a Clery Compliance auditor who provided information on the 2014 changes to Clery reporting that will be implemented per the Violence Against Women Act of 2013.
“Whenever we have changes we meet with our legal representative and we draft a template so that we have an understanding of all the information that is to be included in the report,” Miyashiro said. “My guess is that the new format for the report is going to be a 30 page report that goes more in depth than what we were obligated to report for this year.”
In response to the discrepancies in crime statistics Miyashiro stated, “My records clerk is the one that is responsible for doing the Clery Report inquiry, so we’ve learned that obviously if we put data down and we also provide it online, we have to double check it. When you’re working with a report that is formatted with such tiny numbers and statistics that have a lot of zeros it is really easy to miss something. For the report for the year of 2014, I will make sure to go through the report so that the information that we provide matches what we post to the Department of Education’s website.”
According to Miyashiro, when a reporting process involves multiple police departments it is not certain that the required information will be received on time to meet the Oct. 1 deadline. The Clery compliance auditor that Miyashiro met with advised the chief to include all information available, per the Clery Handbook, and if information from other police departments is not received before the deadline the chief must follow up with a notice and make documentation of such notices.
“We issue a reminder letter to contributing departments in February and follow up with a reminder in September. When I meet with the other chiefs I want to make sure that we work out a format that would expedite the process and a format that everyone can benefit from,” Miyashiro said.