Campus Safety

Policy: Timely Warnings and Emergency Notifications


The purpose of this policy is to establish procedures for issuing timely warnings and emergency notifications under the Clery Act.

It is the ambition of the Union College Campus Safety Department that all employees understand the requirements of the Clery Act. This policy provides relevant information.

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 Union College 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 Union College or on public property immediately adjacent to Union College), the College 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.


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

  • A Clery crime has been reported to the Campus Safety which occurred on Union College Clery geography on campus, on public property within or immediately adjacent to campus, and/or in or on non-campus buildings or property that Union College owns or controls.
  • The Director of Campus Safety or designee has determined that the crime poses a serious or continuing threat to the campus community.

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 Director of Campus Safety (Director), Associate Campus Safety Director (AD) 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.


All Campus Safety 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 contained in the Department operating procedures manual.

During business hours, the Director, AD 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 Director’s designee. The Duty Supervisor will contact the Director or AD to discuss the notification when possible. The Duty Supervisor will notify the Director or AD as soon as possible if a notification is sent without prior consultation.

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

  • 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.

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 Union College'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 Director, AD 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.

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 Duty 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 RAVE using SMS text message, email, social media, and voice/phone messages.
  • Severe Weather Warning Speakers/Sirens
  • Residence hall public address speaker system
  • Media
  • Union College and Union College Campus Safety Department websites
  • Building evacuation alarms
  • Pre-scripted timely warning and emergency notification messages have been created for the college alert/notification system, RAVE, 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 Director, AD 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.

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 as applicable, i.e., local media, Union College Home Page, Union College Alert phone line, email, texts, etc.
  • Any other information to address safety


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