Wednesday, August 08, 2001

DOE on campus to research violent crime

Federal inquiry involves records at Cincinnati State

By Ben L. Kaufman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A federal investigation into campus crime has begun at Cincinnati State Technical & Community College, school officials confirmed Tuesday.

        “There is an inquiry into what we've reported and what we're required to report,” spokesman Bruce Stoecklin said.

        It was not clear whether the U.S. Department of Education was interested primarily in Cincinnati State paperwork or campus safety.

        Mr. Stoecklin said Cincinnati State learned about the DOE probe July 13, when Gary Pawlak, a Chicago-based special agent of the regional inspector general, arrived on campus. Mr. Pawlak — who could not be reached Tuesday — said he was responding to a complaint.

        However, he neither showed it to school officials nor responded to Cincinnati State's request for a copy under the Freedom of Information Act, Mr. Stoecklin said.

        Mr. Pawlak didn't confiscate or request any records or computer hardware, and Cincinnati State offered none, said Michele Imhoff, the college's director of public information and publications. “We haven't been asked for anything yet.”

        Instead, Mr. Pawlak asked Cincinnati State to audit its Clery Act reporting, Ms. Imhoff said, adding that Dr. Myrtle Dorsey, the school's executive vice president, is doing that now.

        The 1990 Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act — known as the Clery Act — was prompted by the murder of Jeanne Clery at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. Her parents had learned that, before their daughter's death, 38 violent crimes on Lehigh's campus had not been made public in the previous three years.

        The law requires post-secondary institutions whose students get federal aid — from research universities to beauty schools — to gather campus crime statistics and make them available to anyone who asks for them.

        Cincinnati State's 2000 crime figures will be posted on the Internet Oct. 1.

        In addition to the school's security chief, Cincinnati State employs five guards, and a full-time and a part-time dispatcher.

        For 1999, the school reported three forcible sex offenses on campus. The year before, Cincinnati State reported no crimes, and in 1997 it reported one drug violation.

        Crimes covered by the law include homicide, negligent manslaughter, forcible and nonforcible sex offenses, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, arson, car theft, and violations of liquor, weapons and drug laws.

        This is the first challenge to Cincinnati State's Clery Act statistics, Mr. Stoecklin said.

        Coincidental with the investigator's visit, the school fired security chief Dave Hart. Cincinnati State was unaware of the probe when it told Mr. Hart that his annual contract would not be renewed Oct. 1, Ms. Imhoff said.

        She would not say why he was let go.

        Mr. Stoecklin added: “his non-renewal had nothing to do with this.”


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