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Missing Persons Policy

Missing/Endangered Persons

It is the policy of the Swarthmore College Public Safety Department to thoroughly investigate all reports of missing persons from our campus. Additionally, the department holds that every person reported missing will be considered at risk until significant information to the contrary is confirmed. It shall be the policy of this department to support and assist missing person investigations originating outside our jurisdiction. It should also be noted that there is no required waiting period for reporting a missing person. A person may be declared "missing" when his or her whereabouts are unknown and unexplainable for a period of time that is regarded by knowledgeable persons as highly unusual or suspicious in consideration of the subject's behavior patterns, plans, or routines.

Missing Person Policy

The purpose of this policy is to establish procedures to be followed if a missing person complaint is made to the Public Safety office. If a complaint is made to this office, Public Safety staff will follow the steps listed below:

  • Person receiving the complaint will immediately dispatch a Public Safety officer to the location of the complaint.
  • The responding officer will gather all essential information about the person (description, clothes last worn, where subject might be, who they might be with, vehicle description, etc). An up to date photograph may also be obtained to aid in the search.
  • The responding officer will also gather information about the physical and mental well being of the individual.
  • Appropriate campus staff will be notified to aid in the search for the individual.
  • A quick, but thorough search will be conducted in all campus buildings, grounds, and parking lots.
  • Class schedules will be obtained and a search of appropriate classrooms will be conducted.
  • The Dean of the College (or designee) will be promptly notified and are responsible for communicating with the family or relatives of the missing person within 24 hours.

If the above actions are unsuccessful in locating the person or it is apparent from the beginning that the person is actually missing, (i.e. call from parents, guardians) the investigation will be turned over to the appropriate local law enforcement agency. This will take place as soon as practical but never later than 24 hours from the initial report. The local police then become the authority in charge and the Public Safety Department and Deans Office will assist them in any way necessary.

In accordance with the Higher Education Act of 2008, all students may register a confidential contact with the college. The confidential contact does not have to be a parent of a student. This individual will be contacted by Public Safety (or another police department) within 24 hours in the event the student is reported missing. This individual will also be updated as to the progress of the investigation. In the case where a student is under 18 years of age, and has not been legally emancipated, the student's parents will also be promptly contacted.

For students to register an individual as a confidential contact this may be done by logging into My Swarthmore.