SUBJECT: TIMELY WARNINGS AND CRIME ALERTS UNDER THE JEANNE CLERY ACT
Federal regulations associated with the Jeanne Clery Act require every college and university to provide "timely warnings" to their campus community after certain designated employees and/or the police receive reports of specified crimes that appear to pose a serious or continuous threat to students and employees. The purpose of issuing a timely warning is to alert the campus community to the occurrence of a crime, heightening safety awareness of students and employees in a manner that will aid in the prevention of similar crimes (34 CFR Ch. VI § 668.46 (e) ). HSU usually issues its timely warnings in the form of “Crime Alerts.”
HSU will comply with the Jeanne Clery Act and associated federal regulations by issuing timely warnings under the procedures described in this policy. The Humboldt State University Police Department (HSUPD) shall be the primary campus department responsible for initiating and coordinating the University’s timely warning responsibilities, in coordination with the Vice President for Administrative Affairs and the Vice President for Student Affairs. HSUPD shall receive support from campus administration, Marketing & Communications, Housing, and other departments on a case-by-case basis.
The University shall always consider the well-being of crime victims/survivors, and seek to maintain a balanced approach to timely warning situations, ensuring compliance with applicable law while considering the needs and concerns of both the campus community and the victim/survivor. When reasonably practicable, the victim/survivor of a crime against person(s) should be notified in advance that a “Crime Alert” will be issued to the campus community, and the content of the “Crime Alert” described and explained to the victim/survivor.
- Circumstances triggering a timely warning:
b) The crime was reported to have occurred on HSU property specified in Clery Act federal law (on campus, residence halls, public property within or immediately adjacent to and accessible from the main campus, and specified off-campus HSU-controlled properties); and
c) The crime is considered to be a serious or continuing threat to students and employees.
- Non-police HSU employees who are designated as Campus Security Authorities shall immediately forward reports of Clery Act crimes to HSUPD.
- Crimes reported to pastoral or professional counselors do not require timely warnings. (“Professional counselor” refers to a person whose official responsibilities include providing mental health counseling to members of the HSU community and who is functioning under the scope of his/her license or certification.)
- Timely warning “Crime Alerts” may be initiated for unusual crime reports occurring off-campus, after HSUPD consultation with the investigating law enforcement agency, depending on the nature and location of each incident, the status of the investigation, and other factors.
- Timely warning “Crime Alerts” may be issued after reports of campus crimes other than Clery Act crimes, as deemed necessary on a case-by-case basis.
- “Safety Alerts” may be issued in response to unusual non-criminal hazards and dangers (e.g., repeated mountain lion sightings), as deemed necessary on a case-by-case basis. “Safety Alerts” may be issued to selected areas of the campus or to the entire campus depending on the situation.
- University Police Collection of Information Related to the Reported Crime:
a) Anyone who has information that may indicate the need or requirement for HSU to issue a timely warning should promptly report the information to HSUPD.
b) HSU’s specified Campus Security Authorities are required to immediately report the information to HSUPD.
c) Law enforcement agencies may submit information related to reports of crimes to HSUPD.
- Determination to Issue a Timely Warning:
a) The Chief of Police, or his/her designee, is responsible for making the decision of whether or not a timely warning will be issued.
b) If the circumstances reasonably allow it, the Chief of Police or designee should consult with the Vice President for Student Affairs and the Vice President for Administrative Affairs prior to issuing the timely warning.
c) Whether or not a reported crime should be publicized in a timely warning must be determined on a case-by-case basis, after careful consideration of several factors including but not limited to: the nature of the crime, available information indicating a continuing danger to the campus community, and the possible risk of compromising law enforcement investigative efforts.
- Timely Warning “Crime Alert” Content:
a) Preparation of timely warning “Crime Alert” notices shall be the responsibility of the HSUPD.
b) As per Federal Department of Education guidelines, the “Crime Alert” must include specific information about the crime that triggered the warning; a warning that simply cautions the campus community to be careful or to avoid certain practices or places is not sufficient.
c) In some cases, HSUPD may need to keep some facts confidential and withhold them from a “Crime Alert” to avoid compromising an investigation.
d) The University shall consider the possible impacts on a crime victim/survivor related to the release of information in a “Crime Alert” notice; however, each “Crime Alert” must comply with federal regulations and HSU policy.
e) The content of timely warning “Crime Alerts” should include:
i. Description of the incident (type of crime, time, date and approximate location)
ii. Physical description of the offender (if known)
iii. Composite drawing or photograph of the offender (if available)
iv. Connection to previous reported incidents (if applicable)
v. Description of injuries or use of force (if relevant)
vi. Information that may promote safety and/or aid in the prevention of similar crimes
vii. Emergency contact information (phone numbers and web sites)
viii. Date the campus “Crime Alert” bulletin was issued
- Timely Issuance of the Warnings:
a) The need to confirm investigative facts for their accuracy prior to releasing information shall be balanced on a case-by-case basis with the urgency to warn the campus community of a very serious potential threat.
b) In the event of an immediate and serious threat, a warning may be issued immediately with relatively few known facts, and then be updated regularly as the details are confirmed.
c) If a threat appears to be less immediate, the warning can go out after investigative facts are more fully developed.
d) Timely warnings must be issued in a prompt manner, appropriate for the circumstances, without unnecessary delay.
- Distribution of Timely Warnings:
a) Crime Alerts must be distributed in a manner reasonably likely to reach the entire campus community. Crime Alerts shall not be limited to certain region(s) of the campus.
b) Depending on the circumstances, any of the following methods, or combination thereof, may be used by HSUPD, Marketing and Communications, Housing, and other campus departments:
i. Posting of paper notices
ii. Posting the “Crime Alert” online on the HSUPD webpage
iii. Creation and distribution of a media release
iv. Posting to the HSU homepage
v. Posting to electronic social media
vi. Placement in the HSU student newspaper
- Removal of Timely Warnings:
a) “Crime Alert” paper notices should be removed from public spaces two weeks after they are initially placed, unless they are updated with new information and/or additional similar crimes are reported. HSUPD will be responsible for leading/coordinating the removal of paper notices.
b) Electronic postings of “Crime Alerts” to the HSU Homepage should generally be removed within 48 hours.
c) Electronic “Crime Alerts” should be archived and accessible at the HSUPD website for a minimum of 90 days.