ARMORED THINGS, The Clery Act, and Your Educational Institution

In late 2016, the United States Department of Education fined Pennsylvania State University nearly $2.4 million for violations of the Jeanne Clery Act. Although the trigger for the investigation and subsequent financial penalty was the University’s inaction in the face of sexual abuse committed by one of its employees, the bulk of the fines resulted from the University’s failure to report a variety of unrelated criminal offenses, as required by the law.

 

The Clery Act and its implementing regulations established a variety of reporting requirements for colleges and universities receiving federal funding. Most relevant to potential Armored Things customers are the need for “timely warnings” regarding health and safety threats on campus and the required annual security report of crime statistics.

 

Saving lives while saving money

Perhaps the most important value proposition of the solution Armored Things is building is its ability to provide immediate emergency notifications to large gatherings of people in the face of a life-threatening emergency. Integrating cyber and physical security measures can facilitate rapid notification of those in harm’s way. Especially in the case of an active shooter, such as the one who struck Virginia Tech’s campus in 2007, real-time and location-specific alerts can mean the difference between safety and tragedy.

 

Although the value of human lives cannot be quantified in dollars, the fines associated with failing to protect them certainly can be. Following an Education Department investigation of Virginia Tech’s belated response and vague warnings regarding the initial shootings on the morning of April 16, 2007, the government fined the university $55,000. It is impossible to know how events might have unfolded differently if the Virginia Tech community did not have to wait nearly an hour and a half after the first killing to receive a warning. It is likely, however, that the university would have avoided fines under the Clery Act had it acted more promptly.

 

Tracking incidents and ensuring compliance

In addition to its requirements for prompt notification of students, faculty, and staff regarding dangerous situations, the Clery Act also mandates the accurate recording and dissemination of statistics regarding crimes that occur on and near campuses. Failure to comply with these legal and regulatory provisions can also result in substantial fines.

 

An Armored Things analysis of data provided by the Department of Education reveals that during 2017 alone, the government announced its intent to issue such fines amounting to nearly half of a million dollars. Just one institution alone – the University of Jamestown – will likely suffer penalties of over $170,000 just for its failure to record relevant criminal activity and disseminate required reports properly.

 

Providing detailed logging capabilities, centralized control console, and integration with physical sensors, the Armored Things platform will be able to serve as a “one-stop shop” for all of a university’s Clery Act compliance needs. With auditable trails for notifications, educational institutions can also ensure that community members receive useful alerts tailored to their location, improving safety while preventing unnecessary financial penalties.

 

Conclusion

Fines per violation of the Clery Act have recently doubled, raising the stakes even further. Any large organization seeking to ensure public safety would be well served with an integrated platform that can monitor sensors, control physical access, and provide rapid notifications about potential dangers. The advanced auditing and notification capabilities of the Armored Things solution will allow school administrators to do all of these things while at the same time avoiding expensive fines levied under the auspices of the law.

Jaclyn Shepherd