Timely Warning Notifications (Clery Act)
Related policies and additional references:
Clery Act Immediate (Emergency) Notifications; Annual Security and Fire Safety Report
The St. Mary’s University Police Department and / or University Communications have the authority to develop and distribute a timely warning notice (called Crime Alert) for the University to notify members of the community about serious crimes against people that occur within the campus boundaries, which includes on university owned or controlled property on campus, public property that is within or immediately adjacent to the campus, and in non-campus properties as defined by the Clery Act. These units may collaborate with other University Departments, if time permits, however they have the authority to distribute them without collaboration, if deemed necessary. Although not required by Federal Law, timely warning notices may also be distributed for crimes that occur outside the Clery Act geographic areas, if the crime is deemed to pose an ongoing threat to the campus community. The decision to issue a timely warning notice for an off campus crime will made on a case by case basis depending on an assessment of various factors, which include but are not limited to: the nature of the crime, the exact location, the time of the incident, the local police response and guidance to campus officials and the potential direct effect on the campus community.
A timely warning notification will be distributed when it is determined that there is an ongoing or serious threat to members of the St. Mary’s University community. In addition, these timely warnings will typically be issued for Clery Act reportable crimes indicated below. All other crime categories will be assessed on a case by case basis.
The University Police Department reviews information that is reported either directly to University Police or indirectly reported by members of the community, Campus Security Authorities, and other local law enforcement to determine if a reported crime poses a serious on-going threat to members of the University community.
Timely Warning Notices will be distributed as soon as pertinent information is available, in a manner that withholds the names of victims as confidential, and with the goal of aiding in the prevention of similar occurrences.
Timely Warnings are typically issued for the following Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR)/National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) crime classifications:
- Murder/Non-Negligent Manslaughter
- Manslaughter by Negligence
- Aggravated Assault (cases involving assaults among known parties, such as two roommates fighting which results in an aggravated injury, will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine if the individual is believed to be an ongoing threat to the larger St. Mary’s University community)
- Robbery involving force or violence (cases including pick pocketing and purse snatching will typically not result in the issuance of a Timely Warning Notice, but will be assessed on a case-by-case basis)
- Sexual Assault (considered on a case-by-case basis depending on the facts of the case, when and where the incident occurred, when it was reported, and the amount information known by the University Police, or designee). In cases involving sexual assault, they are often reported long after the incident occurred, thus there is no ability to distribute a “timely” warning notice to the community. All cases of sexual assault, including stranger and non-stranger/acquaintance cases, will be assessed for potential issuance of a Timely Warning Notice.
- Major incidents of Arson
- Other Clery crimes as determined necessary by the University Police.
All timely warning notices will include the following, unless issuing any of this information would risk compromising law enforcement efforts:
- Date and time or timeframe of the incident
- A brief description of the incident
- Information that will promote safety and potentially aid in the prevention of similar crimes (crime prevention or safety tips).
- Suspect description(s) when deemed appropriate and if there is sufficient detail (see below)
- University Police contact information
- Other information as deemed appropriate by the University Police Department
The description of subjects in a case will only be included in the timely warning notification if there is a sufficient amount of detail to describe the individual. If the only known descriptors are sex and race, that will not be included in the notification. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) strictly prohibits publishing victim names in timely warning notifications.
The University Police can utilize up to two different methods for distributing the Timely Warning to the campus community. University email is the primary means of disseminating timely warning notifications. University Police can also provide timely warning notifications through the University’s “StMU Alert” text messaging, if deemed necessary.
University Police will draft an email containing the proposed timely warning notification and forward it to the Office of Communications. The Office of Communications will review and suggest possible revisions, then send it back to the University Police Department for a final review. Upon determining that the content has met the requirements outlined above, the University Police Department will send out the timely warning notification to all current St. Mary’s University students and employees. Updates to the St. Mary’s University community about any particular case resulting in a timely warning notification may also be distributed electronically by email.
The department does not issue timely warning notification for the above listed crimes if:
- The department apprehends the subject(s) and the threat of imminent danger for members of the University community has been mitigated by the apprehension.
- If a report was not filed in a timely manner.
- If a report was not filed with Mary’s University Police Department or a Campus Security Authority if the crime was not reported in a manner that would allow the department to post a “timely” warning for the community. A general guideline will include a report that is filed more than ten days after the date of the reported incident may not allow St. Mary’s to post a “timely” warning to the community. This type of situation will be evaluated on a case by case basis.