Timely Warnings

The purpose of this policy is to outline procedures that Swarthmore College will use to issue Timely Warnings in compliance with the Clery Act.

The College will issue a Timely Warning Notice in the event that it receives notice of an alleged Clery Crime (defined below) occurring on campus, on public property within or immediately adjacent to the campus, or in or on non-campus buildings or property controlled by the College, where the College determines, in its judgment, that the allegations present a serious or continuing threat to the college community.  For purposes of this policy, "timely" means as soon as reasonably practicable after an incident has been reported to the Department of Public Safety or the Campus Security Authorities identified by Swarthmore College, or local police agencies that have concurrent jurisdiction have reported the information to the College.  The Director of the Department of Public Safety, or, in his absence or unavailability, his designee, is responsible for determining whether to issue a Timely Warning Notice.  If the Director or designee is not available, the determination will be made by a member of the College's emergency response contingent called the 24/7 Team (See "Emergency Response" policy).  

Whether to issue a Timely Warning Notice is determined on a case-by-case basis for Clery Act crimes:  arson, homicide, burglary, robbery, forcible and non-forcible sex offenses, aggravated assault, motor vehicle theft, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and Hate Crimes, as defined by the Clery Act.[1]  Notices also may be distributed for other crimes as determined necessary by the Director of Public Safety and the 24/7 Team, or their designees. 

In determining whether to issue a Timely Warning, the College will consider any factors reflecting on whether the alleged crime represents a serious or continuing threat to the College community, including, but not limited to, (a) the nature of the incident; (b) when and where the incident occurred; (c) when it was reported; (d) the continuing danger to the campus community; and (f) the amount of information known by the Department of Public Safety.  If there is insufficient information available to determine whether the incident represents a continuing threat to the College community, the College will issue a Timely Warning unless, based on the information available, it appears unlikely that there is an ongoing threat to the Community, and will note in the content of the Timely Warning that, based on the information available, the College does not have full information to evaluate the nature of the ongoing threat.

The Director of Public Safety will make efforts to consult with the Vice President of Communications or a designee, if s/he is available, to develop the content of the Timely Warning Notice.  Time permitting, additional input may be garnered from additional members of the 24/7 Team, including the V.P. of Human Resources, V.P. of Facilities and Services, the Dean of Students, and the Executive Assistant for Facilities and Services. The College's Title IX Coordinator may also be consulted in appropriate situations.

The reasons the College does or does not issue a Timely Warning for any Clery Crime reported to the College will be documented and maintained by the Department of Public Safety for at least seven years.

The Timely Warning Notice will typically include, to the extent known, the date, time and nature of the offense, a brief overview of its particular circumstances, a physical description of the actor(s), law enforcement's immediate actions, a request and method for witnesses to contact law enforcement, and where applicable and appropriate, cautionary advice that would promote safety.  In developing the content of the Timely Warning Notice, the College will take all reasonable efforts not to compromise ongoing law enforcement efforts.

The College distributes Timely Warning Notices in various ways.  Once the College determines that an alert will be issued, the Department of Public Safety emails the announcement, posts it on its website, and posts alerts on bulletin boards throughout campus. The College will also send text messages disseminating the notice to those who register their cell phone numbers.

Anyone with information about a serious crime or incident should report the circumstances to the Public Safety Department by phone at 610-328-8333 or in person at the Benjamin West House.  If a report is made to other College administrators, those administrators will immediately notify the Public Safety Department.   

[1] A hate crime is a criminal offense of murder and non-negligent murder, forcible sex offenses, non-forcible sex offenses, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, arson, larceny-theft, simple assault, intimidation, destruction/damage/vandalism of property, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking incidents, where the criminal offense was committed against a person or property which is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender's bias.  Bias is a preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of persons based on their race, gender, gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation or ethnicity/national origin.