CUNY Colleges Cook Books on Crime: Report

Audit finds nearly 75 percent of crimes went unreported

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Five CUNY schools failed to report nearly 75 percent of felonies that occurred on campus from 2006 to 2007, a scathing audit reveals.

    The John Jay College of Criminal Justice may be one of the most renowned schools of its kind in the country, but when it comes to crime on campus, its officials need to check their math.

    The college is one of five CUNY schools that neglected to report nearly three quarters of the crimes that happened on their campuses, a scathing state audit obtained by the New York Post reveals.  

    John Jay, Queens, Baruch, Hunter and Medgar Evers colleges failed to report 78 out of the total 107 serious felonies that occurred in 2006 and 2007 on campus, according to the audit conducted by the State Comptroller's Office. Schools are required to report accurate crime statistics on their Web sites for students under federal law.

    The unreported felonies include 42 thefts, six assaults and a hate crime, reports the Post. Surprisingly, John Jay was the least likely college to report crimes, exposing only one of 20 felonies that occurred on campus in the two years audited. 

    The school was blasted in the comptroller's report for maintaining two sets of crime records – one started just two weeks before auditors came, reports the Post.

    Students were furious they were being left in the dark.

    "I think it's unethical. It's like if there's a crime in your neighborhood, you want to know what's going on," Deana Kelly, a John Jay sophomore, told the paper.

    Robert Pignatello, a senior John Jay vice president who supervises public safety, says the audit's findings could be misconstrued. A few of the felonies the auditors analyzed were reported to police and not the school, while other crimes happened off campus, Pignatello told the Post.

    "The safety of our students is of paramount importance," he told the paper, maintaining that the college did not underreport crime statistics to make the campus appear safer. "We are a very safe campus. The incidents of crime are very low."

    When CUNY found out about the audit's findings, the university organized a two-day training session for its schools' security heads, the Post reported.

    Colleges and universities receiving federal funds are required by law to publish an Annual Safety Report containing crime statistics on their Web sites. They're also required to send those reports to the federal Education Department, which puts them on another Web site so prospective students can compare crime stats across campuses.

    In CUNY's case, state auditors compared the schools' annual crime reports with crimes reported to police over the same period. Auditors found Hunter neglected to report 11 of 25 felonies, including six aggravated assaults, Queens 28 of 34 crimes, Baruch 18 of 19 and Medgar Evers 2 of 9, including one hate crime, reports the Post.