Tag Archives: department of justice

ASU is non-compliant with the Clery Act and also Title IX!

Two major state universities in Michigan are currently under investigation by the Department of Education for alleged non-compliance with the Clery Act and also Title IX, according to a recent article from Campus Safety Magazine. The complaint states that both the University of Michigan, and Michigan State University failed to appropriately handle sexual abuse cases.

The complaints lodged against UM/MSU are very similiar to issues we raised in our recent article, ASU misrepresents its crime statistics, violates Clery Act (Part two).  Like UM/MSU, ASU failed appropriately handle several forcible sexual offenses.  ASU failed to report a sexual assault statistic in its 2013 Clery report, and in 2011, ASUPD failed to report at least seven sexual forcible sexual offenses.

We have previously discussed the requirements ASU must follow under the Clery Act (due to their status as a university which accepts federal financial aid), but we have yet to mention how ASU may also be in violation of Title IX. Title IX is a law passed in 1972 which requires gender equity for boys and girls in every educational program that receives federal funding. It is most commonly thought of in reference to college athletic programs, but it has a wide range of applicability, including sexual harassment and sexual violence.

According to an article on Title IX from Campus Safety Magazine:

  • Sexual violence is viewed under the law as an extreme form of hostile environment/sexual harassment and must be addressed. When an institution “knows or reasonably should know” about a hostile environment, they are required “to take immediate action to eliminate the harassment, prevent its recurrence and address its effects.” Institutions must adopt and publicize policies as well as designate at least one Title IX coordinator to respond to their obligations under the law.

In 2011, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights began an initiative to require greater compliance for schools to adhere to Title IX, which included sending a letter to applicable institutions outlining the requirements. Under the requirements, ASU’s Title IX coordinator is required to communicate regularly with the school’s law enforcement unit investigating cases (ASUPD) and provide them with information regarding Title IX’s requirements. How can ASUPD refer cases to the Title IX coordinator when the department reclassifies or omits sexual offense cases from its Clery report? In addition to this, ASU’s Title IX coordinator has been accused of failing to investigate claims of sexual harassment, making the purpose of having a Title IX coordinator effectively useless.

By failing to comply with Title IX, ASU is at risk of losing its federal funding, and some cases may also be referred to the Department of Justice for litigation (this is in additional to the financial penalties the university may suffer from failing to comply with the Clery Act requirements). The student group Sun Devils Against Sexual Assault is currently in the process of filing a complaint with the Department of Education over ASU’s non-compliance with Title IX (which will hopefully incorporate ASUPD’s non-compliance with its Clery Act reporting.


Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

ASU misrepresents its crime statistics, violates Clery Act (Part Two)

In our last Clery post, entitled “ASUPD misrepresents its crime statistics, violates Clery Act (Part One)” , we looked at what the Clery Act is, what reporting is required  of universities who are obligated to adhere to Clery, and why the Clery Act is so important. In this second installment, we are going to discuss how exactly ASUPD is misrepresenting its crime statistics (and how that violates the requirements of the Clery Act).

1. ASUPD omits crime stats from specific reporting areas required under the Clery Act

In our previous post about the Clery act, we discussed different areas other than campus ASU is required to provide crime statistics for, namely:

Public Property

  • Public property (All public property, including thoroughfares, streets, sidewalks, and parking facilities, that is within the campus, or immediately adjacent to and accessible from the campus, as well as any public transit stops adjacent to campus).

However, according to page 33 of ASU’s 2013 Annual Security and Crime Safety report, we found this small disclaimer:

Clery public prob

Similarly, on page 34 of the Crime Safety report, we found this disclaimer for West, Poly, Downtown and Lake Havasu campus’ public property reporting:

West poly public

Down Lake Havasu

So essentially, what ASUPD is telling the public via the Crime safety report is that the crime stats on the report do NOT include areas adjacent to ANY campus, nor do they include the crime stats for the EIGHTEEN areas considered “non campus properties”.

ASUPD’s excuse for not including public property crimes is that ASU “is unable to provide a statistical breakdown appropriate for Clery Act reporting” is a weak excuse. The “Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting” requires a university  to show a “good faith” effort to collect crime data from another non-university police agency.

This “disclaimer” about not having statistical data appropriate for Clery reporting is to be utilized when other agencies refuse to release their crime statistics, or  the information provided to the university is unable to be attributed to ANY of the university’s Clery geography (page 103).  ASU IS provided crime stats/information (by Tempe PD) that are able to be broken down to the “public property” level simply by looking at the physical location of the offense; this is the type of work that crime analysts routinely engage in.

ASU is also able to request the crime stats for their non-campus properities by merely providing the address of the property to the appropriate jurisdiction. We reached out to Scottsdale PD, home of Skysong (one of the non-campus property locations) and we were told that ASU contacted them approximately one time to request crime information.

We accessed the database referenced in page 33 of the Crime Safety report to see what crimes ASU may have missed because of its exclusion of public property statistics, and this is what we found for ASU’s Tempe Campus:

Tempe 1

Tempe 2

ASU excluded a significant amount of crimes occurring adjacent to campus (and several that occurred ON campus but were handled by other police agencies) from its Crime Safety Report (go to raidsonline.com and use the date range of August 2012-August 2013 to view the above posted data in a clickable format)

 Non-campus property

These are the non-campus statistics from ASU’s Skysong Campus which are not included on the Tempe non-campus property in the Crime Safety report (cited from raidsonline.com, using the date range of August 2012-August 2013): Note that the campus boundary is marked with a solid blue line, and each of the crimes are circled in red.

Skysong crimes

Note there are five motor vehicle thefts, one sexual assault, and one commercial burglary NOT included in ASU’s Crime Safety Report.


2. ASUPD improperly classifies crimes so they don’t meet the criteria for Clery reporting

Sex offenses

Perhaps the most misclassified/reclassified type of crime are those linked to sex offenses. Clery Act has a much more broad definition of what a sex offense is compared to definition used by the UCR (which excludes forcible fondling). Under the Clery Act, there are two types of sex offenses: forcible and non-forcible.

  • Forcible sex offense: Forcible rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object, forcible fondling.
  • Non-forcible sex offense: Incest, statutory rape.

“Schools can wrongly categorize reports of acquaintance rape or fondling as “non-forcible” sexual offenses — a definition that should only apply to incest and statutory rape”, according to an article by publicintegrity.org.

In August 2007, an ASU student reported being sexually assaulted at the Sigma Chi fraternity house. Subsequent follow-up emails to then Assistant Chief Jay Spradling went unanswered, and the sexual assault was later reclassified. The student alleged that her sexual assault was not investigated by Officer Janda (who documented the assault on a field investigation card) because she was intoxicated. Clery specifically states that a sex offense is presumed to be forcible if the person is incapable of giving consent “due to his or temporary/permanent physical or mental incapacity”.

The woman, who later sued the Arizona Board of Regents for violating Title IX, stated ASU has in recent years systematically and severely underreported sexual assault reports. Her complaint states that in 2008, ASU reported and posted only four forcible sexual assault reports in its 2009 Annual Security Reports, despite, on information and belief, having received at least several dozen reports.

A 2010 State Press article interviewed a counselor who works with sexual assault victims and is closely affiliated with the university and stated, “ASU does not take sexual assault reports seriously enough, creating a climate that keeps victims quiet and crime stats low”.

In 2011, ASUPD arrested a man accused of fondling at least 14 victims on ASU’s campus the previous year. Under the Clery reporting guidelines, forcible fondling is required to be reported as a forcible sex offense. For the year the incidents occurred (2010), ASU reported a mere 6 forcible sex offenses that occurred on campus (see Campus_Security_Policy )

Prevalence of under reporting sexual assaults

USC, UC Berkley, and Occidental College are all major universities currently facing the possibility of sanctions from the Department of Education for failing to properly report the number of sexual assaults on campus.


ASU has also reclassified several robberies into felony thefts, which would prevent their inclusion into ASU’s Crime Safety Report. Under the Clery Act, robbery is defined as:

    • Robbery: is the taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person
      or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear.

ASU has had several strong arm robbery series which occurred on ASU’s campus where the victim was robbed of an IPhone and then dragged by a vehicle; under the Clery Act, these crimes should have been listed as a “robbery”, but they were later reclassified to a “felony theft” or merely “theft”.

3. ASU doesn’t utilize its resources properly

While formal training in the field of statistics and crime analysis is not required for persons preparing the Crime Safety Report under the guidelines specified by the Clery Act, that type of knowledge is useful when tasked with processing a large amount of data in a relatively short period of time. ASUPD has been fortunate to have a crime analyst on board for the past few years, but unfortunately, the analysts’ job has been reduced to producing crime maps for bike thefts on campus.

ASU’s former analyst (who has subsequently left the department for greener pastures) was much more qualified to process and analyze crime data compared to the Commander in charge of Clery reporting (Michele Rourke), who merely possesses a bachelor’s degree in English and has no formal training in statistics

Additionally, with such a large criminal justice undergraduate/graduate program, ASUPD could utilize several unpaid student volunteers or interns to process and catalog crime reports; this is a relatively common practice in larger departments such as Tempe PD.

4. ASU needs stronger partnerships with other agencies

After looking at the various locations where ASU has property/research labs, it is obvious that the university’s footprint is pretty significant. ASU has demonstrated that it does not have the resources, training, or personnel to effectively fulfill its obligations under the Clery Act; ASU needs to form stronger partnerships and more effective ways to communicate with other police departments. Building a rapport with another agency would assist ASU in obtaining the proper crime information necessary for a thorough Crime Safety report, and perhaps allowing ASU to assist that agency in some other area in the future.

 All of this information, especially when coupled with the storm of negative media coverage over ASU’s crime situation, are evidence that ASU’s students/faculty/staff are NOT as safe as the university would lead them to believe. ASUPD knows the magnitude of the crime problems on and around all campuses, but refuses to do anything about it. 

There is no more hiding behind Tempe PD or any other police agencies; the other agencies did not create the staffing shortages, the lack of training, or incentives to stay in the department—you did, Command staff!  ASUPD is unable to fulfill its basic obligation to serve and protect its community. It is now a matter of time before ASU starts losing students (and $$) because of these shocking safety issues.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

DoJ’s analysis of university PDs, and how ASUPD falls short in comparison!

The US Department of Justice has published statistics which analyze a myriad of variables that are applicable to university/college police departments.

This include demographics of sworn officer to student ratio for a several population sizes of universities/colleges.  According to page 3 of the report:

  • Campuses using sworn officers employed on average 2.3 full-time officers per 1,000 students. Private campuses averaged 3 sworn officers per 1,000 students compared to 2.1 sworn officers per 1,000 students on public campuses.  

ASU currently has approximately 73,000 students enrolled on all four of its campuses. If ASU followed the national average of employing 2.1 sworn officers per 1,000 students, the department should employ 153 sworn employees. To put this number into perspective, ASUPD currently has 72 sworn employees (which includes the Chief, Assistant Chiefs, and several Commanders, none of which work patrol. This number also incorporates employees who are in the academy/being hired who should NOT be counted in the “sworn employee” total).

Which universities had the LARGEST amount of sworn employees? According to page 2 of the report:

  • Campus served/Full-time sworn officers:

    Howard University: 166

    Temple University: 119

    University of Pennsylvania: 100

    University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey: 97

    George Washington University: 95

    University of Florida: 86

    Georgia State University: 79

    Yale University: 78

    University of Maryland – College Park: 76

    Vanderbilt University: 76

Of these universities, the only one that has a comparable amount of enrolled students is the University of Florida, at approximately 49,000 students. Interesting to note that the then University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (which has since been incorporated into Rutgers University) had a student population of approximately 7,000, yet had MORE SWORN POLICE OFFICERS THAN ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY!

The DoJ also analyzed the demographics of its sworn employees, both by sex and race. According to page 5 of the report:

  • During the 2004-05 school year, 31% of sworn campus officers were a racial or ethnic minority. A sixth (17%) were women.

In it’s 2011 Final Report, CALEA noted that 88% of ASUPD’s officers were male (26% percent being a racial or ethnic minority), and 12% of its officers were female. The numbers of minority and female officers has also dropped considerably since 2011. CALEA also noted, in its report, that ASUPD “failed to reflect its available workforce (48.3% female) as it relates to female officers”.

The type of work the majority of sworn university/college police departments were engaged in was also analyzed. On page 6 of the report:

  • 90% or more of sworn police officers were responsible for routine patrol, special event security, violent crime investigation, property crime investigation, traffic enforcement
  • 90% or more of non-sworn security were responsible for routine patrol, building lockup/unlock, special event security, parking enforcement .

The latter sounds like the majority of work ASUPD’s officers are required to do by Command staff.

Perhaps after reading this post, Chief Pickens and his illustrious Command staff should read another publication by the Department of Justice, entitled Establishing Appropriate Staffing Levels for Campus Public Safety Departments.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Campus Police: The Feds are watching

…according to an article courtesy of one of our readers, thanks! This article presents several interesting points which ASUPD should take note of.

Questions emerge from DOJ’s investigation into University of Montana police

The blistering findings, though not always supported with documentation, serve as a warning shot for all campus police: the feds are watching.


In May, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), through the Special Litigation Section, released a public letter of findings in their investigation into the Office of Public Safety response to sexual assaults at the University of Montana. The DOJ looked at a three-year timeframe in which the campus police department allegedly inappropriately handled / investigated 30+ sexual crimes.

This appears to be the first time that the DOJ has conducted an investigation into a campus law enforcement agency. I also believe this is the first time that an agency of fewer than 20 officers has been thusly investigated.

With regard to the investigation, based on my review of the report and additional documentation, it is hard to determine the veracity of all the claims by the DOJ relating to sexually based crimes. But that’s not the only question mark.

Does the DOJ Have the Standing to Investigate?
The DOJ specifically conducted an investigation because the agency determined there was a pattern or practice of violating citizens’ Constitutional rights — that women were unfairly treated and discriminated against because of the failed investigations, practices, policies and procedures of the Department of Public Safety.

A question comes to mind. Is the federal government attempting to control and interfere with the rights of police officers to act in a professional manner, or are they attempting to increase police professionalism within higher education?

There is some discussion on that question now taking place among higher education law enforcement professionals.

While it should be the goal of every police department to run its operations based on the Constitution, it is apparent that not every agency is following those standards to the DOJ’s satisfaction — otherwise, we wouldn’t have DOJ investigations into local police agencies.

The fact is, DOJ has the power to civilly investigate organizations that have demonstrated a pattern and practice that violates the Constitution of the United States.

Furthermore, the May 9 letter to the university from Gary Jackson (DOE) and Anurima Bhargava (DOJ) specifically states that “[t]he (MOU) Agreement will serve as a blueprint for colleges, and universities throughout the country to protect students from sexual harassment and assault.”

To the lay person, this should serve notice that the federal government is coming after higher education law enforcement to ensure that they are conducting Constitutional policing, and not using any discriminatory practices. The DOE and DOJ are requiring remediation in regard to this civil investigation against the University of Montana, as well as the City of Missoula Police Department and the county.

Where did the University of Montana DPS Fall Short?
The Department of Public Safety (law enforcement) appeared in the report as completely incompetent when conducting investigations of sex-based crime — specifically when women are victims. But facts are sometimes not cited to back up the assertions.

Page 12 of the findings letter said, “We found that OPS response to reports of sexual assault is often marked by confusion, repetition, and poor investigative practices.” The DOJ does not provide examples to support their statement.

The DOJ also stated on page 11, “[w]omen who are intoxicated are at increased risk of sexual assault, and more than half of all non-stranger sexual assault involves alcohol use by the victim, assailant, or both.” This statement creates problems because it doesn’t present a way for the police department to address the alcohol factor.

The police department needs to patrol the campus community 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Additionally, the department needs to conduct regular police business, calls for service, crime prevention, and order maintenance activities. Addressing alcohol consumption, especially if done by legal adults behind closed doors, might be beyond the call.

How Can Campus Cops Prepare?
Change is knocking at the door of higher education. To address the base issue of sexual assaults, one solution is to form collaborative partnerships with community services organizations who serve victims on the campus and in the community.

To stay out of the government crosshairs it is important to keep a proactive, professional, and well-trained police agency. Keep a watch on the DOJ website and review laws, policies, and procedures that protect both the citizens and employees of the schools. Keep accurate records.

Review the Police Executive Research Forum policy meeting on consent decrees. If your organization falls subject to a DOJ investigation, contact a litigation group that specializes in dealing with consent decrees and federal monitoring to help prepare for the inevitable.

What Does it All Mean?
The lessons for campus law enforcement are not easily parsed from this report. But one is that campus law enforcement officers need to keep up on training so that they can avoid claims of failure to train, much like federal lawsuits that can be filled as set forth by the precedents of Monell v. Department of Social Services (1978) and Canton v. Ohio (1989). If campus police officers are unaware of these two federal cases, it is clearly in incumbent on organizational leadership to make their officers aware of the principles and holdings of these cases.

The second implication may be more important. The federal government is watching, and will be more than likely conducting investigations into campus law enforcement. So these agencies need to keep up with best practices and data relating to crime that occurs on the campus.

To summarize: a university PD should properly train its officers to absolve the department from legal liability; failure to do so is the result of poor leadership. Also, the federal government is watching and will be investigating more campus PDs. Interesting…sounds like the DoJ would have a field day at ASUPD.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,