Alert, Alert

As we settle into our fall routines, history tells us that, at some point, everyone’s phone will start to quiver, bark or play whatever ringtone you have. When you look to check it out, you will see a Case Western Reserve University alert staring back at you. So what are security alerts, and why do we send them? I’m glad you asked.

In 1990, Congress passed something called the Clery Act, named after a student who was murdered in her dorm room in 1986. The student’s parents went on to lobby for campus safety legislation. The act created the Annual Security Report that all U.S. universities have to publish every Oct. 1. They created the requirement that universities put out emergency notifications and timely warnings, which CWRU has labeled as security alerts.

Emergency notifications are just what they sound like—immediate notices put out through the RAVE emergency notification system about hazards such as fires or tornadoes.

Timely warnings are put out whenever a crime has occurred. Here at CWRU, this is usually defined as a crime against a person, such as robbery or assault, as opposed to property crimes like auto theft.

Alerts generally consist of the date, time and location of the incident, a brief description of what occurred and suspect descriptions based on the information gathered from victims and witnesses. This is to make the campus community aware of descriptions of potential suspects who may still be at large in the area and who pose a danger to community members.

There is always a balancing act between ensuring safety and not bombarding people with alerts and information. CWRU’s timely warning policy is spelled out in this year’s Annual Security Policy, available on the CWRU PD website.

So, the next time an alert pops up in your inbox, take a minute to read it, and realize that they are sent to keep us in compliance with federal law, but more importantly to make the community feel safe and informed. Let’s look out for each other.