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August 22, 2014, Contact: Press Office (518) 474-4015

DiNapoli: SUNY Improves Crime Stats Reporting, but More Needs to be Done for Clery Act Compliance

The State University of New York’s (SUNY) 29 state-operated colleges made improvements in reporting crime and safety statistics, as they are legally required to do, but auditors still found inconsistencies and problems at some campuses according to an audit released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

“College students and their parents have the right to know how safe their college is and get an accurate picture of campus crime,” DiNapoli said. “While SUNY has improved its compliance with reporting crime statistics, problems at some campuses still exist and administrators need to do more to improve the way they report crimes.”

The Clery Act requires all public and private colleges to prepare and publish an annual security report (ASR) disclosing information about college safety policies and procedures and crime statistics for the three most recent calendar years. Schools must make the ASR available to students and employees, as well as report crime statistics to the U.S. Department of Education (DoE).

A previous DiNapoli audit of compliance with the act, released in October 2008, found that two-thirds of SUNY colleges did not accurately report campus crime statistics to the federal DoE, and in some cases, what they reported substantially differed from the colleges’ internal records. Auditors also found that some of the colleges failed to report serious crimes such as sexual offenses, burglaries and drug offenses.

In this latest review, DiNapoli’s auditors conducted on-site audits at four SUNY colleges: the university centers at Buffalo and Stony Brook and the colleges at Farmingdale and Morrisville. The schools, located in different regions of the state, and with varying enrollments, account for about 26 percent of the undergraduate student enrollment in SUNY’s 29 state-operated colleges. Auditors reviewed the police incident reports for the 2012 calendar year and compared these with statistics reported on each college’s ASR. Except for Farmingdale, the other colleges published inaccurate statistics as a result of either under-reporting or over-reporting crime information, or inaccurately reporting disciplinary referrals that did not result in arrests.

DiNapoli’s auditors found Morrisville underreported liquor referrals by 37 instances or 22 percent, and Buffalo underreported drug arrests by 11 instances, or 26 percent. Buffalo also over-reported drug referrals by 92 instances (38 percent) and liquor referrals by 101 instances (20 percent). Morrisville officials attributed the inaccurate reporting to human error. Buffalo officials said their Clery Act coordinator felt it was appropriate to include all reported incidents, even those that were not clear violations of the law. The Clery handbook states colleges should not include violations of college policy that result in disciplinary action if no laws were broken.

In examining how the data was reported to the DoE, auditors found that three of the four visited colleges properly reported their numbers. However, Morrisville had several discrepancies between their ASR statistics and those that were reported to the DoE.
Of the remaining 25 colleges not visited by auditors, 13 properly reported their numbers while the other 12 had a range of reporting errors. Particularly, three of the 12 – Fredonia, Canton, and Empire State College – had more significant data discrepancies between their ASR and DoE reports in the categories of sexual offenses, burglaries, and liquor and drug law and weapons violations.

DiNapoli’s auditors found that SUNY’s university audit unit, which assesses university-wide procedural and policy matters and the various functions, programs, and control systems, has not audited Clery Act compliance since 2008.

A follow-up to DiNapoli’s 2008 audit found that SUNY administration has taken steps to help ensure colleges comply with Clery Act requirements, including establishing an Internet ListServ to provide legal guidance to campuses, offering multiple training sessions, meetings and electronic communications between administrators and SUNY college officials on the act’s requirements and providing colleges with guidance and assistance on preparing ASRs and maintaining daily crime logs.

DiNapoli recommended SUNY:

  • Provide a checklist to assist SUNY colleges in preparing ASRs, including all required policy and procedure statements and reporting requirements;
  • Periodically compare statistics between the ASR and the DoE website and follow up with colleges to correct discrepancies;
  • Have the university audit unit perform more audits of SUNY college compliance with the Clery Act; and
  • Investigate and correct any errors and discrepancies in the ASR and DoE statistics identified in this report to ensure compliance with the Clery Act.

For a copy of the report visit:



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