Timely Warning Notifications
The federal Clery Act requires colleges and universities to issue timely warnings to the campus community when there is an ongoing threat to public safety. The act is named for Jeanne Clery, a Lehigh University student who was sexually assaulted and murdered in her residence hall room. After her death, her parents, Connie and Howard Clery, advocated for change regarding how universities notify their community about crime as the information was nonexistent when their daughter began school. They successfully advocated for passage of legislation requiring transparency and timely notification of documented and suspected crimes.
Not every crime triggers a Crime Alert. Homicide, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and arson are the major crimes that will be reported in a Crime Alert, but the University may issue an Alert for any crime that may pose an ongoing threat to the campus community. The University typically will not issue an Alert if an arrest is made and it’s believed a threat no longer exists.
The Office of the Vice President for University Services and the University of Minnesota Police Department are responsible for issuing Timely Warning Notifications. They are distributed to all Twin Cities campus students, faculty, and staff via the University email system. The Timely Warning Notifications are posted on the UMPD website and archived for approximately one year.
Crime Alerts may include the following details:
a) A description of the incident
b) Physical description of the suspect
c) A photo or composite drawing of the suspect, if available
d) Apparent connection to previous incidents, if applicable
e) Any other pertinent information relating to the crime
f) Relevant crime prevention tips
While there are examples of a Timely Warning Notification being used to identify a suspect, it is not expected that one will lead to the arrest of the suspect described. Rather, Timely Warning Notifications are intended to inform the university community of an ongoing risk so that they can better protect themselves and aid in the prevention of similar crimes.
There are many requirements an institution must meet to be in compliance with the Clery Act. Some of these requirements are to release an Annual Security Report, maintain a daily crime log, and report crime statistics to the U.S. Department of Education. Non-compliance can result in a fine of $35,000 per violation and the suspension of an institution’s participation in federal student financial aid programs. The University of Minnesota takes its Clery Act responsibilities very seriously.
Connie and Howard Clery founded the Clery Center for Security on Campus to raise awareness of campus safety issues in memory of their daughter Jeanne. You may find more information on the Clery Act on the Clery Center’s website.