Clery Act in Action: From Watchdog to Crime Prevention

Since arriving back to campus in August, students have received three alerts regarding motor vehicle theft. 

University of Indianapolis Chief of Police and Director of Campus Safety David Selby said that he has sent out three motor vehicle theft-related Watchdog Alerts since August, including an alert about a stolen golf cart. Under the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, or the Clery Act, a golf cart is considered a motor vehicle and an alert had to be sent out to notify students that one had been reported stolen, Selby said.

The two cars that were reported stolen have since been recovered, according to Selby, but the golf cart has not been found. UIndy Police were able to recover the two cars with the help of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. Those investigations were joint operations with IMPD, Selby said.

“The one vehicle that was actually stolen, the student invited a person into their apartment, and the person stole their keys and took their [the student’s] car,” Selby said. “The second one, it ended up the roommate moved the car and [the student] didn’t know it.”

Under the Clery Act, universities are required to send out timely warning notices about crimes that pose an ongoing threat to campuses, according to UIndy’s annual Clery Act Report. UIndy tries to educate the campus community about crime and safety as well as improve safety for students, faculty, staff and the neighborhood, according to UIndy’s annual Clery Act Report.

“If something happens, call us. If it’s an emergency, call 911.”

Selby works with Vice President for Student and Campus Affairs and Dean of Students Kory Vitangeli to provide these warnings. There are several criteria in the Clery Act that universities must comply with.

“There are federal mandates that say if something is happening in that jurisdiction, within one of the crime categories in the Clery reports, then we are required to send out information to the campus community,” Vitangeli said.

In addition to timely warnings, Vitangeli said she sends out information about safety risks as a courtesy. Vitangeli said she wants students to know about the safety risks so they can stay clear of the area or shelter-in-place in a safe area to ensure their safety. This information is sent out via Watchdog texts or emails. However, each situation is different and needs to be evaluated, Vitangeli said.

According to Selby, the UIndy police patrol an area that is within roughly a one-mile radius around campus. 

Not only does UIndy send out warnings and alerts to students, a daily crime log is kept by the police, as required by the Clery Act, according to UIndy’s annual Clery Act Report. These reported crimes include those on or around UIndy’s campus. Additionally, these cases are from IMPD as well as the UIndy police, Selby said.

The crime logs do not reflect the amount of crime at UIndy, Selby said. The Clery Act requires that if a university police force has a jurisdiction that is bigger than the campus, then the police have to report those crimes on the logs as well.

Unlike most universities, UIndy police work closely with the Indianapolis police and fire departments, according to Selby. The working relationship between UIndy police and IMPD is very important, Selby said. 

“We’re on the same radio channels as Metro [IMPD], county [Marion County Sheriff’s Office] and everybody,” Selby said. “We’re all working as a team. It’s not just us, it’s everybody.”

There are precautions that students can take to prevent theft and crime, Selby said. He said that making sure that students know the people they are interacting with is extremely important for their safety.

According to Selby, if there is suspicious activity, or if students notice something on campus, they should call the police.

“If something happens, call us. If it’s an emergency, call 911. If it’s not, get a hold of us as soon as you can,” Selby said. “If you see something in the parking lot going on, call us. You’ll never be wrong. It is our job to look into that, and we will look into it.”