Editorial: Not very ‘Daily’ reports

We reported on this a little over a year ago, but we noticed this past week that nothing has changed.

For this issue, we decided to implement a new regular column titled “Police Blotter.” We want students to be aware of what is happening on their campus that the Western Carolina University Police Department deals with on a daily basis. It is important for students to know what constitutes as a crime on campus and what the consequences are. However, our reporting is quite behind the date that the paper is distributed.

On police.wcu.edu, there is a navigational bar on the left. From that bar, you can click various links like “University Police Staff,” “Campus Safety & Crime Information” and “Emergency Preparedness.” There is also a link called “Daily Activity Reports.” This is where we compiled our information for the “Police Blotter” article.

On this webpage, you can click a date link, and an Excel sheet will pop up in a separate window. The Excel sheet reports when the incident took place, including the time; when the report was recorded; a “brief narrative as to the nature of the incidents or crime, location of incident, dollar figure of damage or loss, items damaged or stole if an assault or accident, nature and extent of injuries, if the victim was hospitalized, etc;” incident number; officer in charge; whether there was a criminal arrest and disposition.

During the summer of 2012, we noticed the Daily Activity Reports were posted sporadically, not daily. When we called the WCU PD, an officer answered and stated that the reason was “probably” due to the fact that “no crime had taken place.” Two days later, the missing reports were posted, several with multiple incidents of accidents, welfare checks, unsecure buildings and crime listed on their Excel sheets.

Nothing has changed since then. We compiled the “Police Blotter” data on Thursday, Sept. 19, and checked the website the next day. The last entry available is Sept. 9, a little less than two weeks ago.

Western Carolina’s University Policy number 116 defines and states the procedures of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Crime Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act of 1998, also known as the Clery Act. According to the Clery Act, found at http://www.wcu.edu/WebFiles/PDFs/POL-GA-116.pdf, which was approved on Aug. 12 of this year, the policy “requires colleges and universities receiving federal financial assistance to gather and make public information about certain crimes on or near their campuses and publish policy statements concerning campus safety and security.”

The section we are referring to is Section IV University Responsibilities, subsection F: “University Police must maintain a daily crime log of all crimes reported to campus security.” We are sure the WCU PD do keep a log of the crimes that occur on campus, one that is maintained and updated daily. However, according to the next sentence of subsection F, found on page 6, WCU PD are not complying with the Clery Act: “The daily crime log is available to the public at the University Police Department at the address listed in Section XII,” which is the webpage we gathered our “Police Blotter” information from. Yet, here we are with the last published report being Sept. 9.

We ask that the WCU Police Department keep their online Daily Activity Reports up-to-date so that any student may see and know what is happening on campus on a regular basis. We would also like this information updated in order to do our jobs as reporters to better notify the student body of occurrences on campus with breaking news reports, hard news articles, Facebook statuses and commentary on how to remain safe, according to information gathered from the WCU PD.