Following scrutiny of Temple’s crime reporting practices by The Temple News, university officials have said they will include previously omitted arrest information in its daily crime logs, but not across all mediums.
The inspection by The Temple News, outlined in a report last week, pointed out the university’s failure to publicly publish, or release to the press, the names and addresses of people arrested and charged, as a 2004 state law mandates.
Under the Campus Safety Services website, the “Security Reports & Crime Logs” tab states: “In accordance with the state and federal laws, our department maintains a public log of all crimes reported to us. In this section you can view crime-related statistics for the last three calendar years on each Temple University campus as well as daily logs for individual campus locations.”
Temple has since labeled its online logs for each campus a “Clery Crime Log” – in reference to the federal Clery Act – and attached to them a disclaimer, referring the public to Campus Safety headquarters to access the additional state-mandated information.
Prior to last week’s story, the university did not differentiate between daily logs compliant with federal requirements and those compliant with state law requirements – nor did print and online reports provide different information. Neither the Clery Act nor the state Uniform Crime Reporting Act explictly require online publication.
CSS officials told The Temple News that the information will be readily available to the public in a print binder, but said they wouldn’t opt to publish the arrest information online.
The UCR act is broad in terms of dissemination requirements, stating: “The campus police or campus security officers of each institution of higher education shall develop and maintain a daily log as a public record.”
On including the arrest information online, Assistant Vice President for University Communications Ray Betzner said: “It’s not required.”
However, Betzner said, the information will now be readily available upon request.
“That’s the key difference,” he said.
Universities’ online crime logs that The Temple News reviewed during its reporting process – including those at the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State and the University of Pennsylvania – do include the arrest specifics.
Temple’s response, while compliant, calls in to question the vague nature of the law, said State Sen. Judy Schwank, D-11, who has sponsored an amendment regarding sexual assault reporting and information.
“The differences in how schools make police logs available frankly is a new and interesting concern,” Schwank said in an email. “With more and more people relying on electronic sources for information, online access would be a common sense step. It would give the public information it already is entitled to, in an effective and economical way that can help them avoid becoming victims, and help police to prevent and solve crimes.”
Schwank said that she plans to introduce a bill that would require online publication of university police logs in the near future.
CSS officials have said they will also now provide arrest information to The Temple News during its inquiries.
Angelo Fichera and Ali Watkins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.