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Letters to the UMB Community
Campus Safety and Emergency Alert Procedures
To the UMB Community:
With the school year in full swing, daylight hours growing shorter, and snow in our not-too-distant future, we thought it important to educate the UMB community about how we alert you to issues of public safety on and close to campus and keep you apprised of other conditions—such as severe weather and traffic emergencies—that require your attention.
The University uses UMB Alerts to notify you of campus emergencies and weather-related closings. All students and employees are automatically enrolled in UMB Alerts, and you can add personal phone numbers and email accounts to the alerts system to expedite notification.
Since Jan. 1, 2015, UMB has issued 85 alerts. These alerts break down as follows:
- Weather-related schedule and service adjustments: 31
- On-campus crime and safety: 23
- Off-campus crime and safety: 18
- General communications (including status updates on reported emergencies and activities with potential campus impact): 7
- Traffic emergencies and road closures with severe campus impact: 6
The safety of UMB's students and employees is our top priority, and our emergency notification procedures are designed to provide you prompt information that helps you prepare for, avoid, or manage dangerous situations.
Alerts: Emergencies Occurring On Campus
All U.S. colleges and universities receiving federal student financial aid are required by the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act to issue emergency notifications and timely warnings to their students and employees about immediate or ongoing threats to safety. Among the threats that must be reported are certain crimes that occur on campus and on roads and sidewalks bordering campus.
It's important to remember a key criterion of the Clery Act's reporting requirements: Situations warranting an emergency alert are only those that pose an actual or potential threat to campus safety—that is, the notification system isn't intended merely to inform but to warn. And that means a fire that's swiftly put out might not merit an alert. A robbery ending in the immediate apprehension of the alleged perpetrator likely wouldn't merit an alert.
Campus Crime Reporting
However, the Clery Act does mandate that colleges and universities annually disclose data on various crimes occurring on and adjacent to campus—whether or not those crimes were determined to threaten campus safety. UMB's 2015 Clery Campus Security and Fire Report is now available on the UMB Police and Public Safety website, and a hard copy is available during normal business hours in the Pine Street Station at 214 N. Pine St., Baltimore, MD 21201.
We are committed to reducing crime on campus, and police are maintaining a visible, deterrent presence, with more UMB officers and security personnel on duty during evening hours and more active patrolling by these officers. Close collaboration with the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) has led the department to deploy more BPD officers around our campus during critical times of the day—early morning, lunchtime, and early evening.
With Daylight Saving Time ending soon and daylight hours shrinking, we ask that you help us by exercising caution on and around campus and immediately reporting any crime to UMB Police by calling 711 (campus phones) or 410-706-3333 (off-campus and cell phones). And please take advantage of the UMB Police van and walking escort services, whose hours and boundaries were extended last year in response to requests from the UMB community.
Alerts: Emergencies Occurring Off Campus
While the Clery Act does not require that officials notify students and employees of crimes that occur off campus, UMB does, as a matter of protocol, alert you to crimes close to campus that we believe pose a potential threat to the safety of UMB's people.
Of the 41 crime alerts issued since Jan. 1, 2015, 18 of the crimes occurred off campus; in the judgment of UMB Police, these off-campus crimes had the potential to jeopardize campus safety. Among these instances are those in which a violent crime was committed blocks from campus but the alleged perpetrator was seen running toward campus. In these situations, we do—and will continue to—err on the side of caution and send an emergency alert.
The UMB Police also might issue alerts when crimes are occurring frequently in a concentrated area. This is intended to help you avoid the area in question or remind you to be especially vigilant if avoidance isn't possible.
Weather-Related Closings and Delays
Most decisions to close or delay opening of the University are made due to weather conditions. In the event of inclement weather, a decision regarding the status of the University schedule is made by the president or his or her designee; no other University official has the authority to close UMB or delay its opening. These decisions are made after extensive consultation with staff in Facilities and Operations.
Once a decision has been made, the Campus Emergency Information Hotline (410-706-8622) is updated, as is the UMB Alerts web page. These are the University's official sources for inclement weather announcements, and we strongly urge you to consult them every time there's a weather emergency. We cannot guarantee that media reports of UMB schedule adjustments will be up-to-date and accurate.
When the weather-related decision is a same-day closure or delay, an alert is sent to the campus community. When the decision involves a closure or delay for a subsequent day, students and employees are notified via an emailed letter from the president.
Continually Improving the System
Decisions regarding which situations merit an alert must be made very quickly. These decisions require the judgment of the police officers or safety personnel involved in the emergency, the police leadership, and the University leadership. Even choosing the vehicle by which to deliver the alert—for instance, phone call, text message, email, or all three—is influenced by several factors: the time of day or night the emergency occurs, the nature of the emergency, and its potential to endanger the community.
Of course, whenever human discretion is involved, there will be times when members of the campus community believe a different decision should have been made. We appreciate the feedback we receive as it helps us improve the UMB Alerts system.
We do our best to minimize the time between the report of a potentially dangerous situation and the issuance of an alert. With speed, we will often have to sacrifice detail and, in some cases, we may have to clarify details as more and better information becomes available. (For instance, a robbery we alerted you to in June was later determined to be unfounded.) But overriding these concerns is the imperative to deliver alerts as soon as there's sufficient information to do so.
We remain committed to protecting the University and its people, and we thank you for your help in keeping our campus safe.
Jay A. Perman, MD
Antonio Williams, MS
Associate Vice President for Public Safety
Chief of Police