FAU Police fails to report 114 cases in August online

An assault, a dating violence incident and a burglary are just a handful of the 114 cases FAU Police didn’t report online for the month of August.

Student Press Law Center Director Frank LoMonte called that an “apparent” violation of the Jeanne Clery Act, a national law Florida Atlantic University’s police department has to follow when reporting crime. FAU media relations officials called it a glitch.

The Clery Act states police departments must keep a daily crime log, also known as a blotter. According to the Clery Center for Security on Campus, a non-profit “dedicated to preventing violence, substance abuse, and other crimes on college and university campuses across the United States,” the log must be updated regularly. The Clery Act itself says:

“(ii) If new information about an entry into a log becomes available to a police or security department, then the new information shall be recorded in the log no later than two business days after the information becomes available to the police or security department.”

Here’s a screenshot of FAU’s Police blotter, taken on Sept. 6 at 3:47 p.m. from a UP reporter’s laptop:


When the UP noticed cases were not reported between Aug. 3, 2014 and Sept. 6, 2014, and not “recorded in the log within two business days,” it tweeted @FAUPD to find out why:Capture

The UP also sent FAU PD a Facebook message, which Facebook confirmed FAU police officers saw at 4:32 p.m.


FAU Police then updated its blotter adding 114 reported crimes, according to this Sept. 6 screenshot:


When FAU Police Chief Charles Lowe and Deputy Chief Sean Brammer were emailed by the UP the following week, FAU Media Relations Director Lisa Metcalf said:

“There was a technical glitch due to a server update,” Metcalf originally replied. When asked what that meant and how the department would prevent the same glitch from going unnoticed for a month again, Metcalf:

“The FAU Police Department has added a personal check of the live blotter to its checklist for the next update.”

When asked if FAU Police weren’t personally checking the online blotter before this glitch, Metcalf replied:

“The FAU Police Department’s crime log is in compliance with the standards as set forth by the Clery Act. Our full log is accessible to the public during normal business hours; and it remains open for 60 days and subsequently, is made available within two business days upon request when one is made. While not required, as a convenience FAU also provides an online version for ease of access to anyone who desires to see it.  As explained on our website, an IT server error delayed the online service for a brief period.  Once realized, this system was repaired and is currently up to date and functional.

Student Press Law Center Executive Director Frank LoMonte agreed the online blotter isn’t required, but he didn’t excuse FAU PD’s failure to report cases on it for a month.

“Once you do decide to publish online, you can’t publish deceptively,” LoMonte said. “So I do think they are in violation of the spirit if not the express letter of the law…It’s conceivable that they could argue they are in technical, literalistic compliance if the on-premises physical log was kept up-to-date — a fact that there’s no way of knowing now — but that would be a very hair-splitting argument, since they must know that far more people will rely on the online log than the one kept at the public safety headquarters.”

The UP contacted the U.S. Department of Education to see if it deems this a violation of the Clery Act, and if the Department will impose any fines for the violation. Until the Department responds, read the UP’s 10-month investigation of Florida Atlantic University’s compliance with the Clery Act here.