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Accuracy of campus crime stats reporting questioned

By Akane Simpson
On November 15, 2018

Every year the Grambling State University Police Department releases a Security and Fire Safety report. A look at the campus crime stats released over the past several years raises questions about the accuracy of these reports.   


The reports are federally required by the Jeanne Clery Act that was signed in 1990 in which institutes of higher education are federally required to report crime statistics occurring on-campus and in campus housing. The Clery Act mandates crime statistics and safety policies for institutions are kept transparent to protect consumers, in this case current and prospective students of an institution.


The Gramblinite has analyzed annual Security and Fire Safety reports produced by Grambling State University going back to 2015 and has found numerous issues with the reporting. Among the problems with the reports includes changes in numbers between reports, the sudden inclusion of certain crimes reported in the 2017 report when comparing reports before 2017. Also, there is a consistent trend in specific crimes being consistently higher than other crime statistics reported in the university.


Regarding the inconsistent reporting of crime statistics, one concern can be seen in the 2017 report where simple assault jumped from 0 reported cases to 64 reported cases between the years 2015 and 2016. In the latest 2018 report the reported number of simple assaults reported in previous years appears to have shifted over the same time period. In the 2017 report simple assaults were listed as 64 for the prior year, 2016. However, in the 2018 report the number of simple assaults listed for 2016 inexplicably drops to 38.


This trend of numbers not matching from year to year and report to report is present in all of the Clery Act reports The Gramblinite viewed, specifically regarding burglary and aggravated assault.


Another example of numbers suddenly dropping is in the 2015 report. In the 2015 report aggravated assault dropped to 5 reported cases in 2013 and stayed the same into 2014. However, in the same report the reported cases was at an astounding 45 cases in 2012 alone. That is a drop of 40 cases in only one year.


These numbers are only related to the reported crimes on campus. Campus housing crimes stats are listed separately but also shares similar trends for highest average crimes, fluctuating numbers and mismatched numbers.


There is also a inconsistency in what crimes are reported. For example, simple assault, bodily injury, intimidation and vandalism were not reported by Grambling State University prior to the 2017 report.


While it is unclear if the discrepancies in the crime stats provided by Grambling violate the Clery Act, according to the “Chronicle of Higher Education” a violation of the Clery Act may result in a fine of $55,907 fine per violation.


GSU spokesman Jovan Hackley was contacted by The Gramblinite but did not provide an official response to the discrepancy in the crime statistics.

 

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