Timely Warnings, Emergency Notifications and Response
In the event that a crime occurs on The University of Akron campus, or on public property surrounding campus, and in the judgment of The University of Akron Police Department (UAPD) that crime constitutes a serious or on-going threat to the campus community, a Safety Advisory will be issued by the University. The purpose of a Safety Advisory is to provide to individuals information about the incident that will: enable persons to protect themselves; heighten safety awareness; aid in the prevention of similar crimes; and, seek information that will lead to an arrest and conviction of the perpetrator.
Whether an incident triggers the need for a Safety Advisory is considered on a case-by-case basis. Factors that are considered include:
- the type of alleged crime (including whether the offense is a Clery reportable offense);
- the facts of the incident (including where and when the incident occurred);
- when the incident was reported; and,
- the extent of information known by UAPD.
(For example, if an assault occurs between two students who have a disagreement, there may be no on- going threat to other University of Akron community members and a Safety Advisory would not be necessary. In cases involving sexual assault, if the report of the assault is reported long after the incident occurred, there may not be the ability to distribute a “timely” warning notice to the community.)
Every attempt will be made to distribute a Safety Advisory soon after the incident is reported; however, the release of the Safety Advisory is subject to the availability of facts concerning the incident. The decision to issue an advisory will be made by the University's Assistant Vice President for Campus Safety/Police Chief or designee, with notice to the Senior Vice President, Provost, the leader of the student affairs division and the chief communications officer. Other University offices may be consulted as necessary.
Safety Advisories are distributed to students, faculty and staff via a blast e-mail and are posted on the University’s Safety website. Safety Advisory e-mails typically include:
- A succinct statement of the incident
- Possible connection to previous incidents, if applicable
- Date and time the bulletin was released
- Other relevant and important information
- Appropriate safety tips
- Physical description of the suspect, when sufficient detail exists to help identify suspects or groups of suspects. Such detail may include a combination of gender, race, clothing, height, body type, build, accent, tattoos, hair color, facial hair, or other unique identifying characteristics.
Safety Advisories shall not include the names of victims.
Emergency Notification and Response
Emergency Messaging System – Notification of an Immediate Threat
The University of Akron maintains multiple systems for alerting the University about campus emergencies, including via cell phone text messages and email. These notices also post to the University website. The University of Akron Text Messaging System is available to all University students, faculty, and staff. Enroll in UA's free emergency, text-messaging service: http://www.uakron.edu/safety/z-alert.dot
In addition, in the case of an emergency the University can activate an announcement via a public announcement system and can communicate with many buildings through voice announcements from the UAPD dispatch center to individual building fire alarms systems. The university also may elect to alert the media to obtain assistance in disseminating information.
Emergency messaging primarily will be used for situations that pose an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or employees on campus or for an event that necessitates the closing of an entire campus (e.g., severe weather, chemical spills, fires and crime.) Emergency messages about criminal activity generally will not be sent unless it is decided that there is an imminent threat of danger. In those cases where a crime has been reported and UAPD determines that although there is no immediate threat, the crime still represents a serious or ongoing threat to the campus community, a Timely Warning/Safety Advisory will be issued.
The emergency messaging system is provided in addition to existing emergency notification procedures and does not replace or eliminate any other emergency notification system (e.g., fire alarms, tornado sirens.) The University will provide follow-up information to the community as appropriate, including via the University's website.
Emergency Notification Procedures
If UAPD confirms there is an immediate and imminent threat to the health or safety of some or all of the members of the campus community (e.g. tornado, criminal activity), UAPD may direct its police dispatch to send a text message and to activate the indoor and outdoor audible warning systems. In this scenario, UAPD will determine the content and audience for the message. If there is not an imminent threat of danger, but circumstances still warrant an emergency notification, UAPD may consult with the University Communications and Marketing (and other offices as necessary), which, in consultation with UAPD, will determine the content of the message and will use some or all of the methods described above to communicate to the campus community or appropriate segment of the campus community.
In either scenario, the University will, without delay and taking into account the safety of the community, determine the content of the emergency message (notification) and initiate the emergency messaging (notification) system, unless issuing a message (notification) will, in the professional judgment of UAPD or other responsible authorities, compromise efforts to assist a victim or to contain, respond to, or otherwise mitigate the emergency situation.
The warnings typically consist of the following elements: a short description and location of the incident; actions the recipient needs to take to avoid harm; and how follow-up information will be provided.
Emergency Notification v. Timely Warning
If there is an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or employees occurring on campus, The University of Akron will follow its Emergency Communication Procedures. No additional Safety Advisory (i.e. Timely Warning) based on the same circumstance will be issued. Follow-up information will be disseminated to the community as available and as needed.
In the event of a significant on-campus emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the health or safety of students, faculty or staff, the University will also post information on its home page. University Communications and Marketing is charged with notifying the media in the event of an emergency. Updated information will be posted to the University’s website and provided to the media as available.
General information about the University’s response and evacuation procedures is publicized each year as part of its Campus Safety Report, which is published as part of its compliance with the Clery Act.
Emergency Response Procedures and Testing Emergency Response/Evacuation Procedures
The University of Akron has established a Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP) to provide an all-hazards approach for managing its response to emergencies or disasters that threaten the safety and well-being of the University’s community or disrupt its programs and operations. The University also has established an Emergency Operations Group (EOG) to carry out its CEMP. These types of large-scale emergencies require a coordinated response effort between the University and local emergency response agencies. The CEMP is an operational plan that establishes policies, procedures, responsibilities and organizational structure to be implemented during emergencies and disasters, both during campus-wide emergency planning and during an actual emergency incident.
The CEMP shall be activated when circumstances indicate that there is a significant emergency or dangerous incident on campus. The first University safety force member that arrives on scene shall establish incident command over the radio and give a detailed overview of the situation, including: the type of incident; the number of people, vehicles or buildings involved; the number of injured people and type of injuries; and whether the situation presents an immediate threat to the health or safety of students and employees. If the situation presents an immediate threat, the University of Akron Police Department (UAPD) Dispatch Center, under the direction of the Assistant Vice President of Campus Safety - Chief of Police (or designee) and with notice to the Provost, is responsible for initiating the CEMP by immediately contacting the University’s Chief Communication Officer (CCO) and Emergency Management Coordinator (EMC), who will coordinate the distribution of necessary notifications and activation of the Campus Emergency Operations Center.
In the event that the University President or Board of Trustees determines that unsafe conditions (i.e. the threat of serious injury to persons or extensive damage to property) exist as the result of a natural, human caused or technological disaster, the President (or designee) will immediately proclaim in writing the existence of a State of Emergency and the time of its occurrence. The President (or designee) shall issue a declaration to the campus community and public through the news media and such other means of dissemination consistent with Chapter 3345.26 of the Ohio Revised Code. Prior to the issuance of the emergency proclamation, the President should, if possible, consult with members of the UA Board of Trustees and Assistant Vice President of Campus Safety to discuss the proclamation of the State of Emergency. When proclaimed, the EOG Manager immediately shall notify the Summit County Emergency Management Agency (SCEMA).
The indoor and outdoor warning systems are tested regularly. E-mail, the telephone announcement line and the digital tools are in regular use. A text-only home page has been developed and it is ready to be activated if needed during an emergency. System tests are pre-announced. The campus is informed at the beginning of the academic year of the tests of both the indoor and outdoor warning system.
Campus safety services also conduct tests of emergency response procedures on at least an annual basis. The tests typically are announced. The Office of Environmental Health and Safety coordinates at least one announced or unannounced drill and exercise per year and conducts follow-through activities designed for the assessment and evaluation of emergency plans and capabilities, and documentation of the tests is maintained by the University’s Office of Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety. The University also includes this description of Emergency Response procedures annually in its campus safety report and in conjunction with at least one test per year.
Evacuation drills are coordinated by EOHS each semester for all residence hall facilities. The purpose of evacuation drills is to prepare building occupants for an organized evacuation in case of an emergency. Evacuation routes are contained in the Student Staff Emergency Manual. Students are provided guidance about the direction they should travel when exiting each facility for a short term building evacuation. In addition the Student Staff Emergency Manual contains details and locations of the Community Check Points. Designated locations for long-term evacuations are affected by time of day, location of the building being evacuated, the availability of the various designated emergency gathering locations on campus, and other factors such as the location and nature of the threat. UAPD, Student Affairs staff and Residence Life staff on the scene will communicate information to students regarding the developing situation or any evacuation status changes. In addition to educating the occupants of each building about the evacuation procedures during the drills, the process also provides the University an opportunity to test the operation of fire alarm system components.
Evacuation drills for residence halls are monitored by EOHS and Student Affairs staff. Recommendations for improvements may be submitted to the appropriate departments/offices for consideration. The University of Akron has protocols for assisting people with different disabilities for safe evacuation.