A bill requiring campus police departments to maintain a public daily crime log passed the state Senate unanimously last week, although the University has already changed how it releases crime reports to match the bill's demands. The bill would amend Pennsylvania's College and University Security and Information Act to mandate a daily listing of all responses to "valid complaints" of crime. The log would include the date, time and place of the reported incident and the type of activity reported. It would also include any charges filed and the name and address of any person charged in connection to the complaint. The bill is now headed for the House Education Committee. It is expected to pass easily, but it is unclear how long the bill will remain in committee before it is voted on by the entire House. While the Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Universities has endorsed the bill, if passed, many member schools would be forced to release information they have kept confidential in the past. Recently, University Police have published a daily "Incident Journal." The journal includes the information required by the Senate bill, in addition to the date and time University Police received the report. Before introducing the incident journal in April, University Police officers would answer questions regarding reports of crime and release written incident summaries on a weekly basis. "The purpose of [the log] is basically . . to establish policy and procedure for public disclosure," University Police Lieutenant Susan Holmes said. "[The log] is one more way to make sure the community is aware of what's going on." Holmes said no specific issue prompted University Police to change its policies on how it released its reports. State Senator Richard Tilghman (R-Bryn Mawr) introduced the campus crime bill last October after speaking with 1992 College graduate Peter Spiegel, a former managing editor of the Daily Pennsylvanian, and campus safety advocates Howard and Constance Cleary. The Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Universities dropped its initial opposition to the bill after the Senate removed clauses which PACU said required listing names and addresses of witnesses and uncharged suspects, University lobbyist Paul Cribbens said. Pennsylvania is the second state to consider requiring college police to allow access to daily logs. Last summer, Massachusetts approved a law similar to Tilghman's proposals after heavy lobbying by the Clearys' advocacy group Security on Campus, a Harvard Crimson editor and the Washington, D.C.-based Student Press Law Center. The College and University Security and Information Act currently requires colleges and universities to release statistics each year on all felonies -- including underage drinking and narcotics charges -- that occurred over the past three years. In addition, the state law mandates that colleges and universities send this information, as well as the school's policies and procedures, to all prospective students.Comments powered by Disqus
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