Covering Campus Crime

Session: Covering Campus Crime

Speaker: Frank LoMonte

This is always a source of interest for colleges, and Anna and I were especially interested.

The session was mostly question and answer but still extremely insightful. Most of the questions dealt with how to attain public record reports, and how to effectively “police the police.”

What can be withheld:

Clery Act: Act that states any school, private or public, that receives any funds from the U.S. government must provide an annual report, give a warning if the administration thinks the student body is in immediant danger and must keep up to date logs. The annual reports of crimes are usually released during October and should be a comprehensive report. The logs must be kept up to date with in 48 hours of when the incident occurred.  It is not required to go into full detail, but to say the time, date, place, and the retention laws vary by state.

FERPA: Family Education Rights and Protection Act. Unless a student signs a document stating they do not wish to allow their information: name, class, ethnicity, etc., to be released, if not everything is fair game. Frank said the school would most likely claim FERPA if they do not wish to give you information.

Helpful sites and documents:

Student Press Law Center: http://www.splc.org or e-mail:splc@splc.org  – This organization and site is dedicated giving student journalists free legal advice. Frank was very persistent about telling us to call them or e-mail whenever we had questions. This seemed like a great organization and a useful tool especially for some of the problems The Pendulum, or college journalists in general, has faced.  The organization will write a warning letter to the police or university, or any group of question, that is not complying with the law. The letter should be used as a last straw after the students have already exhausted every other effort.

FBI.org: Uniform Crime reports – This is a great site for story ideas and research. It covers criminal trends nationally and provides statistics.

Response: Frank was very passionate about our rights as both journalists and students, which made the information he gave us even more credible. I found this workshop extremely helpful because it outline the things journalist really need to know to cite to get the documents they need. Also SPLC is extremely helpful because, as I have come to learn, despite the law, sometimes you are simply not given what you have rights to.

-Sam

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