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When is an emergency alert necessary?
Under Clery, Murray State is required to immediately 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 occurring on the campus. An “immediate” threat as used here encompasses an imminent or impending threat, such as an approaching forest fire, as well as a fire currently raging in one of our buildings. Some other examples of significant emergencies or dangerous situations are:
- Outbreak of meningitis, norovirus, or other serious illness.
- Approaching tornado, hurricane, or other extreme weather conditions.
- Gas leak.
- Terrorist incident.
- Armed intruder.
- Bomb threat.
- Civil unrest or rioting.
Determining the contents fo the emergency notification
The office responsible for issuing the emergency notification (usually Murray State Police) will, in concert with university and local first responders, determine the contents of the notification. The university has developed a wide range of template messages addressing several different emergency situations. The individual authorizing the alert will select the template message most appropriate to the on-going situation and modify it to address the specifics of the present incident. In cases where there is no pre-determined template message in the system, the individual authorizing the alert will develop the most succinct message to convey the appropriate information to the community. The goal is to ensure individuals are aware of the situation and that they know the steps to take to safeguard their personal and community safety.
Procedures used to notify the university community
In the event of a situation that poses an immediate threat to members of the campus community, Murray State has various systems in place for communicating information quickly. Some or all of these methods of communication may be activated in the event of emergency notification to all or a segment of the university community. These methods of communication may include: the university’s homepage, Racer Alert, social media sites, emails, and text messages to cellular devices. The university will post updates during a critical incident on the Racer Alert page. If the situation warrants, the university will establish a telephone call-in center to communicate with the university community during an emergency situation.
For further information and examples of emergency alerts, please refer to Chapter 6 of The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting.
The Clery Act requires Murray State to alert the campus community to certain crimes in a manner that is timely and will aid in the prevention of similar crimes. Although Clery does not define “timely,” because the intent of a warning regarding a criminal incident(s) is to enable people to protect themselves this means that a warning should be issued as soon as the pertinent information is available. This is critical; it’s expected that even if Murray State doesn't have all of the facts surrounding a criminal incident or incidents, a warning will be issued. A follow up will be issued with additional information as it becomes available.
Crimes subject to a timely warning
Murray State must issue a timely warning for any Clery Act crime that occurs on your Clery geography that is:
- Reported to campus security authorities or local police agencies; and
- Is considered by the institution to represent a serious or continuing threat to students and employees.
Timely warnings are not limited to violent crimes or crimes against persons. Timely warnings can be issued for threats to persons or to property. For example, it’s possible to have a rash of residence hall burglaries or motor vehicle thefts that merit a warning because they present a continuing threat to your campus community. A number of incidents involving the possession of “date rape” drugs may also trigger the need for a warning.
When will a timely warning be issued?
All available information known at the time will be taken into consideration when evaluating the need for a timely warning. Those considerations include, but are not limited to:
- The nature and seriousness of the crime,
- When and where the incident occurred,
- When it was reported,
- The duration of time between the occurrence and the report,
- The relationship between the victim and perpetrator,
- The patterns or trends of other incidents,
- The continuing danger to the campus community, and
- The risk of compromising law enforcement efforts or identifying the victim.
Although each case will be evaluated on an individual basis, timely warnings will not be issued when:
- A report is filed more than 10 days after the date of the alleged incident;
- A report is filed anonymously or by a third party;
- The pertinent information has not been acquired;
- The suspect has been apprehended;
- The report is not made in good faith;
- There is a possible risk of compromising law enforcement efforts; or
- The report does not pose an ongoing threat to the campus.
If, in the professional judgment of the Murray State Police, issuing a timely warning would compromise efforts to address the crime, the notification may be delayed or information may be limited. In those cases, Murray State Police Communications will notify the Murray State Chief of Police, or the highest-ranking officer in charge. Once the potentially compromising situation has been addressed, the timely warning will be issued immediately if the serious or continuing threat still exists.
Procedures used to notify the university community
In an effort to provide timely notice to the campus community in the event that a situation arises, either on or off campus, that in the judgment of the Chief of Police or his designee, constitutes an ongoing or continuing threat, a campus wide “timely warning” will be issued. The warning will be issued through the university emergency notification system to students, faculty, and staff via an email message and text message in cases that pose an imminent threat to campus. If available, the timely warning will provide details of the crime, a description of the suspect, and information that will aid in the prevention of similar incidents, including safety information and protective steps. Murray State Police may omit some information from the timely warning if providing it could identify the victim or compromise law enforcement efforts to respond.
For further information and examples of timely warnings, please refer to Chapter 6 of The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting.
Emergency alerts and timely warnings: sorting out the differences
Scope: Wide focus on any significant emergency or dangerous situation (may include Clery crimes).
Why: Emergency notification is triggered by an event that is currently occurring on or imminently threatening the campus. Initiate emergency notification procedures for any significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or employees occurring on the campus.
Where: Applies to situations that occur on your campus.
When: Initiate procedures immediately upon confirmation that a dangerous situation or emergency exists or threatens.
Scope: Narrow focus on Clery crimes.
Why: Timely warnings are triggered by crimes that have already occurred but represent an ongoing threat. Issue a timely warning for any Clery crime committed on your Clery geography that is reported to your campus security authorities or a local law enforcement agency and is considered by the institution to represent a serious or continuing threat to students and employees.
Where: Applies to crimes that occur anywhere on your Clery geography.
When: Issue a warning as soon as the pertinent information is available.
The law specifies that “an institution that follows its emergency notification procedures is not required to issue a timely warning based on the same circumstances; however, the institution must provide adequate follow-up information to the community as needed.”
What is RacerAlert?
The Murray State University’s Racer Alert ENS is a system intended to notify the campus community about any situation or condition that could threaten the safety of individuals on campus. You can expect to receive the following types of messages from RacerAlert:
- Alerts– These are emergency alerts letting you know about incident or condition that requires immediate attention and are required by the Clery Act. At a minimum, this type of notification will be made using text messages and emails. It may also include sirens, phone display, social media, and campus signage.
- Timely Warning Notices – These are messages about crimes that have already occurred but represent an ongoing threat. These notices are also required by the Clery Act. Typically, these will be sent using email only but may include notices on social media and news media.
- Police Department Announcements – These are messages sent by the Murray State Police to inform the Murray State community of general safety information that is not required by the Clery Act, but which the police believe will assist the community in being safer on and near campus. An example would be if a series of robberies occurred near campus, but not on campus, and the victims included students, faculty, and staff.
- Test Messages – Testing the integrity of the system. (Required by the Clery Act)
More information is available at raceralert.murraystate.edu