Months-Old UCSD Crime Report of Little Use Now

NATIONAL NEWS — Just last week, the UCSD Police Department released its annual Clery Campus Security Report, a comprehensive list detailing the number of times that crimes of various natures were recorded on campus over the period of one year.

The report — required for all universities participating in federal loan programs — allows students, parents, faculty and any other interested parties open access to this information, theoretically granting the public a necessary degree of oversight regarding our campus security forces while offering a glimpse into the sorts of illicit activities that are taking place at our university.

The problem, however, is that the report, released this Oct. 1, offers readers information about crimes that occurred only between January and December of 2007 — so, any incident you might read about in this report is at least eight months old.

Eight months. That’s almost as long as the human gestation period. In the time it takes the campus police department to compile, organize and publish this report, a child could be conceived and born, a man could walk from San Diego to Portland and back again and Lionsgate Entertainment could release six more installments of the “Saw” franchise. It’s like watching the vice presidential debates eight months from now and thinking, “My god, we really must do something about this Palin woman.”

To be as succinct as possible: eight months is a long-ass time, and by the end of all that time a lot of crimes have happened, occurrences that likely affect the sort of bearing this report’s information actually has on current campus crime activity. The information contained within the Clery report is not timeless — and, in essence, absolutely useless.

So what exactly is this report supposed to be? A historical record? A glimpse into the past? Or perhaps a mode by which to fondly recall bygone days? What sort of insight, other than meaningless retrospect, are we the public meant to gain by reviewing incidents that most people have probably forgotten by now?

Our own campus police chief, Orville King, said in a recent interview with the Guardian that the report does little to influence law enforcement at UCSD. In his own words, “While Clery reports activity of the previous year, our police department tracks activity in real time to try and identify and respond to trends as they develop.”

In a perfect world, the Clery report would be released at the beginning of each school year, detailing crime information compiled over the course of the previous academic year. This would allow us the opportunity, as informed citizens, to review the types of crimes reported, observe any trends in these occurrences and subsequently voice our concerns to the powers that be. By delaying the release of the report an entire eight months past the conclusion of the period in question, the report becomes nothing more than an outdated document with a whole lot of numbers that have absolutely no influence on the day-to-day activities of campus law enforcement.

Of course, our local campus police department isn’t to blame for the utter uselessness of this report. The Clery Act is a piece of federal legislation, and its policies and regulations are determined by a much higher power than UCSD’s finest. The stupidity of this report is simply a testament to our nation’s love affair with convoluted bureaucracy and stalling the release of any information that could actually prove useful or interesting to the public.

If the Clery report is to remain a requirement for our country’s universities, it should at least be one that doesn’t waste everybody’s time and money with the reporting of meaningless, outdated information. Let’s keep Clery around, but in a manifestation where it might actually contribute to informing the public and assisting our law enforcement officials. Until then, we might as well be reading last year’s newspapers.