On August 10, two suspects robbed at gunpoint the United Dairy Farmers directly across the street from the Ohio State campus at 2094 N. High Street. The suspects allegedly demanded the employee behind the counter to open the registers, stole money and then fled the scene. Both suspects were eventually arrested in New York.
This incident did not elicit an emergency notification from Ohio State, showing the limits of the Clery Act, which requires universities to disclose information about crimes that occur on campus or around campus. OSU officials said the robbery did not fall into this category.
“The crime … did not occur on campus or on public property within or immediately adjacent to campus, and did not occur in or on non-campus buildings or property that Ohio State owns or controls,” said Dan Hedman, spokesman for OSU’s Office of Administration and Planning. “In addition, the suspects fled the scene and it was determined there was not an ongoing threat to campus community.”
Buckeye Alert text messages and Public Safety Notices via email are two of the primary ways the university attempts to notify students, faculty and staff about an emergency or a crime. The university said the means it uses to contact people depends on the situation.
Buckeye Alerts have a more urgent tone to them than Public Safety Notices.
“Buckeye Alerts, often sent via text message, are issued when it is determined that the campus community needs to take immediate action to remain safe,” Hedman said.
A Buckeye Alert was sent during the April 27 home-invasion shooting at 70 W. Northwood Ave. Although the crime occurred off campus, the suspect was seen fleeing the scene towards campus with a gun, thus eliciting an alert.
On the other hand, Hedman said, Public Safety Notices deal with crimes that have occurred and that are currently not a direct threat to the university community.
“Public Safety Notices are issued by the Police Division,” Hedman said. “These exist to increase awareness about a criminal incident to promote safety and aid in the prevention of similar crimes. These are sent via email when a serious crime occurs that demonstrates an ongoing threat to the campus community. University Police reviews the known details of each reported criminal incident on a case-by-case basis with the safety of the campus community in mind.”
An Aug. 20 robbery reported off-campus at 174 W. Lane Ave. elicited an email the next day because there was no urgent threat to the campus. The email sent by the university was an optional Safety Awareness Message, however, not a Public Safety Notice, because it was determined that the robbery did not fall under the Clery Act. If it had fallen under the Clery Act, the email would have been mandatory.
University Police Chief Craig Stone urged students to be alert when off-campus.
“You shouldn’t be distracted in the evenings,” Stone said. “When it’s darker out you need to be seeing what’s going on, especially in the off-campus area.”
Stone also said students should remember to report any suspicious activity to University Police in order to ensure that they can determine the appropriate course of action.
“We are encouraging people to call us if they need any assistance, or if they see anything suspicious, to call us and let us know so we can check it out,” Stone said.
Correction, 8/30: An earlier version of this article stated that the notice issued in the West Lane Avenue robbery was a Public Safety Notice. In fact, it was a Safety Awareness Message.