Campus Crimes: Our Methodology

NBC5 Investigates examined the crime reports – also known as the Clery reports [in reference to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act] – posted online, for six large colleges and universities in Chicago for the year 2014: Chicago State University in Rosemoor; DePaul University’s Main Campus in Lincoln Park; the Illinois Institute of Technology in Bronzeville; Loyola University’s Lake Shore Campus; the University of Chicago in Hyde Park, and the University of Illinois at Chicago’s east campus and west campus on the near west side.

Then we plotted the latitude and longitude coordinates that define the general perimeters of each of the six campuses. We also defined a larger perimeter around each campus, using a standard two-city-block radius on all sides, and plotted those latitude and longitude coordinates as well.

We considered a two-block perimeter to represent a very conservative estimate of the area where students realistically live, work, and congregate, in and around a college campus.

Then we went to the Chicago Police Department’s database of crimes on the City of Chicago’s Data Portal. We filtered the CPD database to show only crimes reported in 2014, and then filtered further, to show only the reported crimes within 1) the latitude and longitude coordinates of each campus, and 2) the latitude and longitude coordinates of each campus, plus our pre-determined two-block radius. We downloaded the filtered results onto a spreadsheet for each of the six campuses we examined.

We then isolated the types of violent crimes that should be reported on a campus’ annual Clery report to the United States Department of Education: Murder and manslaughter (listed as homicides on the CPD database); sex offenses (listed as both sex offenses and criminal sexual assaults on the CPD database); robbery and burglary; aggravated assault (listed as various versions of aggravated assault or aggravated battery on the CPD database); motor vehicle theft, and arson. We also included reports of purse-snatching, listed separately on the CPD database, in our counts of robberies.

We took eliminated all other crimes, and we also eliminated any violent crime that appeared to be contained within a household (domestic battery, for example, or a kidnapping involving a custody dispute) and other crimes which, arguably, would not be reported to Clery (a sex offense involving only indecent exposure, for example). We also did not count any non-aggravated assault or battery.

We took the final, filtered results and mapped them, and then compared each campus’ Clery report from 2014 to the comparable CPD incidents, both within each campus, and then within the two-block radius.

In a separate section of the annual Clery report, a school is supposed to report arrests for weapons, including the carrying and possessing of guns and other weapons. We wanted to compare those numbers to all incidents reported to Chicago police, where weapons were involved. This is not an exact comparison – specific arrests versus any incident involving a weapon -- but the CPD numbers bear some significance in that they may, more completely, represent the presence of weapons in and around a campus. To get the CPD numbers for weapons, we counted all incidents on our filtered CPD database which mentioned the use of weapons – assaults, sex offenses, robberies, etc. – as well as arrests for unlawful weapons possession.

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