Jurisdiction and the Clery Act

According to Lieutenant Donahue, Frostburg State University is subject to authority from Frostburg State University Campus Police, Frostburg City Police, the Maryland State Police, as well as the Maryland Sheriff’s Department.  These different departments can be distinguished by car, uniform, and patch.

“We’ll seek the assistance of other agencies just to make sure everybody’s safe,” stated Lt. Donahue when discussing calling upon outside departments for large campus events like homecoming. Saturation control is another occurrence in which FSUPD seeks help from all their resources. Donahue continued to say, “We have such good rapport,” shining light on the fact that if other authorities believe a situation involves a Frostburg student, then they pass that information onto FSUPD for further review.

Donahue also stated that he checks Frostburg City Police reports each Monday to catch up on the weekend, and then he accordingly sends incidents to Frostburg State’s Student Affairs office for further review. This includes, but is not limited to, drug cases and sexual assaults, which also go to Title IX.

The Clery Act was developed in response to a 19-year-old girl, Jeanne Clery, who was raped and murdered in her dormitory in 1986 at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. At the time, there was no system in place to report campus crimes; however, this tragedy paved the way for a new set of procedures. The act “aims to provide transparency around campus crime policy and statistics” according to the Clery Center website, and it requires all federally funded college campuses to publicize an Annual Safety Report (ASR) to students and staff. Frostburg State University releases this information by sending a postcard to inform recipients that the ASR is now available, a document that is approximately 37 pages long and can be found on the school’s website or through the police department.

Law requires there to be designated Campus Security Authorities (CSA), a title that requires anyone who holds it to report crimes and assaults to police. Of the many encompassed in this, Resident Assistants hold this title, allowing even more information to make its way to necessary places.

Two crucial sources for the implementation of the Clery Act are campus police and Title IX coordinators. Illustrating this close relationship, Lt. Donahue said that he shares information he receives with Title IX coordinator, Emily Caputo, even if it may not fall under her responsibility, just “to be on the safe side.”

Lt. Donahue gave a lot of information about campus police procedures for the Clery Act. FSU’s Title IX office is relatively new, having been officially formed in 2015. The office did not have time to ease into its work, as its staff had to jump right into Clery Reports. According to Caputo, FSU actually has a relatively small amount of reports for the size of the campus. When looking at the actual numbers listed on the report, FSU has consistently had less than 10 counts in every column. When asked about which kinds of cases they get the most, Caputo stated that, “I feel like I see a lot of dating violence cases. Those are the ones that I’ve dealt with the most at any rate, but I know that based on the numbers we actually have more non-consensual sexual contact cases than anything else.”

The Clery Act reports occurrences that happen anywhere on-campus, “public property within campus bounds, public property immediately adjacent to the campus,” and off-campus buildings owned or administered by the campus, according to clerycenter.org. Ownership also comes into play on surrounding streets and sidewalks of the university campus. To keep up with the demands of the Clery Act, the Title IX Team, which includes Caputo, April Baer, Carl Crowe, and FSU Chief of Police, all keep in close contact with one another in order to make sure that all of the reports are accurate, as failure to properly report a Clery Act violation can lead to hefty fines for the university that could equal thousands of dollars per violation.

Regardless of it being the Frostburg State University police or any of the other departments with jurisdiction of the campus who respond to an incident, each occurrence is still recorded in the Clery Act’s ASR. Likewise, should an incident involving a FSU student occur off-campus and is handled by Frostburg City Police, the Maryland State Police, or the Sheriff’s Department, it is a “professional courtesy” for those agencies to keep FSUPD in the know by providing access to their documents, reported Lt. Donahue.

Just as other non-FSUPD officers have jurisdiction over the campus and can report to the ASR, events off campus can find itself relevant for Clery Act guidelines. Lt. Donahue mentioned that any building owned or controlled by the university is responsible for reporting crimes and assaults under the Clery Act. He stated, “If we own it, if we control it, then we’re responsible for it.” Furthermore, if something happens to a student overseas who is enrolled in a study abroad program, that incident is also subject to reporting.

Referring to the 2010 murder in which a student was shot on College Avenue, just steps away from the campus, it was not reportable because it happened in the driveway of the home. Also in 2010 on College Avenue, a student was shot on the far side of the street, disqualifying it for Clery Act reporting. In 2011 a student name Kortneigh McCoy was fatally stabbed by student Shanee Liggins outside a home on the corner of Maple Street and College Avenue, a residence directly across from the campus. Despite its close proximity, none of these incidents made the ASR. Donahue explains, “The best way to describe what is and is not reportable per Clery geography is the following: “sidewalk, street sidewalk.” For example, if you walk out of Frost Hall and walk to the sidewalk on College Ave, that sidewalk, the street, and the sidewalk across the street are reportable areas (nothing farther). So with that in mind, draw a circle around the border of the entire campus, and from that point use the sidewalk, street, sidewalk theory that’s what is reportable.”

Written by Tiaju McCalup and Kyla Welcher

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