Policy: Timely Warnings and Emergency Notifications

PURPOSE

The purpose of this policy is to establish procedures for issuing timely warnings and emergency notifications under the Clery Act. For additional information about the Clery Act, see ADM26.

POLICY

It is the policy of the Michigan State University Police Department (Department) that all employees understand the requirements of the Clery Act.

The Clery Act requires an institution to alert the campus community to certain crimes in a manner that is timely, will aid in the prevention of similar crimes and will enable those in the MSU campus community to protect themselves.

The Clery Act specifically requires that if a Clery Crime occurs on Clery Geography (on-campus, in certain non-campus buildings or property owned or controlled by MSU or on public property immediately adjacent to MSU), the university will issue a timely warning related to the crime.

The Clery Act also requires an institution to notify the campus community upon confirmation of a significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or employees on campus by issuing an emergency notification, regardless of whether it is a Clery crime or occurred on Clery geography.

DEFINITIONS

Timely Warning: A timely warning is a notification to MSU faculty, staff, students and known visitors that will be issued when both elements are present:

A Clery crime has been reported to the police which occurred on MSU Clery geography on campus, on public property within or immediately adjacent to campus, and/or in or on non-campus buildings or property that MSU owns or controls.

The Chief of Police (Chief) or designee has determined that the crime poses a serious or continuing threat to the campus community.

B. Emergency Notification: An emergency notification is a notification to the campus, or a segment of the campus, that will be issued without delay when both of the following elements exist:

There is a significant emergency or dangerous situation, i.e., tornado warning, hazardous chemical spill, fire threatening campus buildings, active violence incident, natural gas leak or terrorist incident.

The Chief or designee has determined that the incident is currently occurring or imminent; and an immediate threat to the health or safety of faculty, staff, students or known visitors on the campus.

PROCEDURES

All police supervisors are trained to make timely warning and emergency notification decisions; and are directed to monitor events that could require a warning or notification.

A decision matrix is attached to this policy and serves as a tool for all trained personnel making the notification decisions.

During business hours, the Chief or designee will launch the timely warning or emergency notification.

During non-business hours, the Duty Supervisor is vested with the authority to launch the timely warning or emergency notification as the Chief’s designee.

After launching the message, the Duty Supervisor will inform the Chief or designee as soon as possible.

When warranted, a second message will be issued updating the earlier recipients of the alert as soon as possible.

This message may include updates about evacuating, securing in place or seeking shelter.

Any additional messages will be sent as needed.

Use messaging training materials as a reference.

Sources for Information

The sources for information to determine the need for an emergency notification or timely warning may come from any or all of the following:

9-1-1 Dispatch Center log of calls for service

Notification by neighboring jurisdictions

Media reports

Notifications by Campus Security Authorities (CSAs)

Word-of-mouth, supported by verification of information

Contact with victim(s) of crime

Information about some emergencies, such as medical emergencies, may come from:

Local hospitals

Public health agencies and/or local medically trained specialists, i.e., private care physicians, Emergency Medical Service (EMS) agencies, or clinics.

Factors to Consider When Determining Whether to Issue An Alert

Law enforcement efforts will be taken into consideration when considering whether to issue an alert.

If issuing an alert will compromise efforts to assist a victim or to contain, respond or otherwise mitigate the emergency, the alert may be modified accordingly or not issued at all.

For example, a timely warning may be issued about a person who is targeting female joggers; but will not disclose the fact that female officers will be working that area undercover.

The decision to issue a timely warning or emergency notification must be made on a case-by-case basis, in light of all of the facts surrounding a crime or critical incident, including:

Is it a Clery crime?

Did the crime occur within MSU’s Clery geography?

Does the incident pose an ongoing threat?

Is a suspect at large or has he/she been apprehended?

Is the suspect’s identity known?

Is a description available?

Is a weapon involved?

Is there an offender history?

Is this a pattern crime?

Are faculty, staff, students or known visitors at risk of becoming victims of a similar crime or exposed to a dangerous situation?

Was the report of the crime timely?

Procedures Specific to Types of Crime or Emergency Alert

Timely warning

Timely warnings will be initiated by the Chief or designee and shall include all information that will promote safety and aid in the prevention of similar crimes.

It must be sent as soon as pertinent information is available (even if all facts are not yet available).

Although the Clery Act does not mandate the method of distribution of the warning, it must be likely to reach the entire campus community.

This can be accomplished by a combination of various dissemination methods, as outlined in this policy.

Clery crimes that may require a timely warning are:

Criminal Homicide: Murder, Non-negligent Manslaughter, and Negligent Manslaughter

Sexual Offenses: Forcible and Non-Forcible

Robbery

Aggravated Assault

Burglary (non-vehicle)

Arson

Motor Vehicle Theft

Domestic Violence

Dating Violence

Stalking

Hate crimes

Arrests for weapons; i.e., carrying possession, etc.

Emergency Notifications

An emergency notification is issued immediately upon confirmation of the incident (verification that the emergency exists, not necessarily that all the pertinent details are known or even available).

Unlike a timely warning, an emergency notification is not required to be likely to reach all of campus; rather affected segments of campus can be targeted.

Examples of situations that may require an emergency notification include confirmation of:

Active violence incident/armed intruder/person-with-a-gun

Tornado/extreme weather conditions

Major chemical spill

Homicide (suspect at-large or unknown)

Natural gas leak

Un-controlled fire

Terrorist incident

Bomb threat

Rioting

Outbreak of meningitis

Noro-virus or other serious illness

Explosion

Communication Methods

Plans have been created for when, how and what dissemination methods will be used to provide the community with crime and emergency alerts.

All police supervisors have been trained in the required communication methods.

To highlight some key methods, the following methods of communication are available to disseminate emergency notifications and timely warnings:

Mass notification via Everbridge using SMS text message, email, social media, and voice/phone messages

Severe Weather Warning Speakers/Sirens

Residence hall public address speaker system

Media

MSU and MSU Police Department websites

Building evacuation alarms

Pre-scripted timely warning and emergency notification messages have been created for the university alert/notification system, Everbridge, and are included in training materials for all trained personnel who will launch messaging.

If the message required is not located in the materials, the Chief or designee may consult with Department staff, local police, and other campus authorities on deciding the content of the warning.

The messages are to be sent across various communication platforms, dependent on the type of warning required.

A decision matrix for determining which platform to use is contained in the Department training materials and for many situations will include launching a message to all dissemination methods within the system.

Some key information required in the warnings include:

Hazard at issue prompting the warning

Location, timing, suspect information and direction of travel (if applicable)

Actions to take for safety

Where to seek additional information, i.e., local media, MSU Home Page, MSU Alert phone line, etc.

Any other information to address safety

Neither timely warnings nor emergency notifications contain any personally identifying information about the victim.

Training

All police supervisors shall be familiar and proficient with this protocol, the mass notification systems utilized by the Department and associated plans/materials.