Public Safety Releases Annual Security and Fire Safety Report

by KELLY BURNS, Editor & KIERAN ROCK, Editor

Every year the Manhattan College Public Safety department releases the Security and Fire Safety Annual Report.

“We are mandated by the U.S. Department of Education [to release the report],” Juan Cerezo, director of public safety said. “Every college or university that is taking federal money has to report the numbers for the last three years.”

The current report includes information about crimes, fires and assaults both on and around campus. Manhattan is required to report these statistics based on continually updated guidelines by the Department of Education.

“There is a history behind why we have to do this,” Cerezo said. “There was a young lady who was sexually assaulted and murdered and as a result of that the parents of this young student, they fought to make sure colleges and universities are more transparent, it’s called the Clery Act.”

The Clery Act was signed in 1990 and was amended by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 which required further specificity in the reporting of crimes on campus, according to the Report.

“The Violence Against Women Act came out. Now we are required to report sex offenses,” Cerezo said. “The way that they were reported before was they were either forcible or non forcible. They want us to actually break it down now.”

Cerezo believes the report and laws surrounding it are encouraging students to make reports in the case of crimes on campus.

“After the Violence Against Women Act, and all the publicity that was out there in the last couple of years, I think more students are inclined to come forward and report something that has happened,” he said.

Beyond assaults and other crimes, the school is required to report fire statistics to the community.

“If your college or university has a residence hall, any fires in those residence halls you have to report, so that’s in here as well,” Cerezo said.

According to the report, Manhattan College has not had any fires in the residence halls in the last three years.

“We’ve been very fortunate. We haven’t had any fires. Sure, you’re going to get the popcorn inside the microwave, but as long as there is not an open flame you’re not required to report that,” Cerezo said.

Cerezo also noted that the report is required to include crimes within the surrounding area, as they are reported to Public Safety from the 50th Precinct.

“Our college falls in their sector. So any crimes that occur here on Waldo Avenue or any of the streets connected to our campus, we are required to put that in our report,” he said.

The 50th Precinct is also responsible for deeming crimes “unfounded.” According to Cerezo this was added to the requirements of the report in 2014.

The director of public safety also shared that the NYPD offers services to off campus residents to ensure their safety, such as a free inspection of their apartment to check the windows and locks.

Cerezo mentioned that the report is continually updated.

“I’m sure there will be additional changes from the U.S. Department of Education,” Cerezo said.

When reflecting on this years report, Cerezo is optimistic about the statistics.

“Our numbers are very low,” he said.

When discussing the three rapes that occurred on campus in 2015, Cerezo mentioned that some situations are more difficult to handle than others.

“Any time you have a situation like that, one is too much,” Cerezo said.