Red Alert

Security alerts intended to inform campus

Within the past several weeks Case Western Reserve University has had to send out several security alerts that have popped up in everyone’s email or caused everyone’s phone to ring, vibrate, scream or bark depending on their settings.

We don’t do this for the fun of it. We do it because we are legally required to and because we want to make the campus aware of potential threats and enlist the community’s help in locating suspects. The legal part comes in as part of the Clery Act, passed by Congress in 1990, named after a college freshman murdered in her residence hall. One of the act’s requirements is that we alert the campus community about certain types of crimes in a manner that is timely, will enable people to protect themselves and will aid in the prevention of similar crimes.

After the CWRU Police Department becomes aware of a serious crime—usually defined as a crime against person such as a robbery or assault—we try and get an alert out as soon as possible, once we feel we have enough of the basic facts to do so. The alerts are intended to be in ‘just the facts, ma’am’ style—what happened, where and a description of any suspects. Suspect descriptions are based on what is provided by the victim, which can range from detailed to vague, depending on the individual. Alerts are usually not sent out for property crimes unless a significant pattern or other circumstances arise.

Alerts are intended to provide the campus community with enough information to take steps to protect themselves and provide descriptions of suspects that are still at large. Alerts will often come in bunches, sometimes triggered by one or more individuals engaging in a pattern of criminal activity in a given area until they are stopped. A case in point was a series of purse snatchings that occurred on or near campus over the summer, several of which triggered alerts, with a similar suspect description. Eventually a suspect matching that description was stopped by CWRU PD officers and has been charged with several of these crimes.

So when the ringtone goes off, take a minute or two and read the alert. You may never need the information, but you never know. Let’s look out for each other.