Clery Act FAQs

  1. Clery Act Crimes Defined
  2. Who are these crimes reported to?
  3. When are timely warnings issued?
  4. How are timely warnings issued?
  5. What types of timely warnings are there?

1.     Clery Act Crimes Defined

The crimes that typically result in a timely warning are referred to herein as "Clery Act Crimes".  These crimes, as defined by 34 CFR 668.46(b) (c), are listed below:

  1. Criminal Homicide
    • Murder and Non-Negligent Manslaughter
    • Negligent Manslaughter
  2. Forcible Sex Offenses
    • Forcible Sexual Assault
    • Forcible Sodomy
    • Sexual Assault with an Object
    • Forcible Fondling
  3.  Non-Forcible Sex Offenses
    • Incest
    • Statutory Rape
  4.  Robbery  
  5.  Aggravated Assault
  6.  Burglary (not to include burglary of a motor vehicle)  
  7.  Motor Vehicle Theft
  8.  Arson
  9.  Domestic/Dating Violence
  10.  Stalking 

2.     Who are these crimes reported to? 

Campus Security Authorities

The Clery Act also mandates that institutions must disclose statistics both for crimes reported to local police agencies and crimes reported to “campus security authorities”. Campus security authorities include the following:

  • A member of a campus police department or a campus security department of an institution.
  • Any individual or individuals who have responsibility for campus security, but who do not constitute a campus police department or a campus security department (e.g., an individual who is responsible for monitoring the entrance into institutional property).
  • Any individual or organization specified in an institution’s statement of campus security policy as an individual or organization to which students and employees should report criminal offenses.
  • An official of an institution who has significant responsibility for student and campus activities, including, but not limited to, the following positions:
    • Vice President for Student Affairs
    • Dean of Student Life
    • Director of Residence Life and Student Housing
    • All Head Coaches and Assistant Coaches for all areas in the Athletic Department.
    • All Associate Athletic Directors
    • Law School – Associate Dean for Student Affairs


* An official is defined as any person who has the authority and the duty to take action or respond to particular issues on behalf of the institution.

Examples of individuals who DO NOT meet the criteria for being campus security authorities include a faculty member who does not have any responsibility for student and campus activity beyond the classroom, clerical staff, custodians and maintenance personnel, and cafeteria staff.   A pastoral or professional counselor on campus does not have significant responsibility for student and campus activity and are exempt from reporting crimes to the campus police.  However, physicians and nurses of the Memorial Health Center who treat a victim of a violent crime that occurred on the campus or a facility under the control of the university, must disclose that crime report to the SMU Police.  They are not required to release the names of the victims/patients. 

Clery Act crimes reported to local municipal police will be included as long as the municipal police agency notifies the SMU Police and the reported crime occurred in an area for which the institution is responsible.  

3.     When are timely warnings issued?

In accordance with the published guidelines used to interpret 34 CFR 668(e), the decision to issue a timely warning is made on a case-by-case basis in light of all facts surrounding the crime, including factors such as the nature of the crime, the continuing danger to the community, and the possible risk of compromising law enforcement efforts.  Neither the Clery Act nor the Department of Education define "timely". The warning should be issued as soon as the pertinent information is available. 

Timely warnings may be issued for other offenses not covered by this regulation if a determination is made that the warning will aid in preventing similar offenses from occurring.

4.     How are timely warnings issued?

The method of delivery will be determined on a case-by-case basis, in light of all the facts. Various methods of delivery will be employed, including e-mail, crime alert posters, text message, voice mail, website, and/or social media to inform students and employees on campus. The alerts are generally written by the Chief of Police or designee and they are distributed to the community by the Office of Public Affairs.

5.     What types of timely warnings are there?

SMU issues two types of timely warnings:

1.    Campus Crime Alert

A Campus Crime Alert is issued when a Clery Act crime is reported to the SMU Police or to a campus security authority and the crime is considered to be a serious or continuing threat to the campus community.  These crimes must have occurred within those areas of the campus that are specifically defined in 34 CFR 668.46(a). These areas are broken down into four categories:

    • On Campus Property
    • Residential Facilities       
    • Non-Campus Property       
    • Public Property

Definitions for these categories can be viewed by visiting

* SMU will not necessarily issue timely warnings for every Clery Act criminal incident that is reported since that specific incident may not pose a continuing threat to the community.  Certain Clery Act crimes like burglary or motor vehicle theft, for example, occur frequently on the campus at random locations.  Suspect information is often never provided or determined.  This is also true of the Dallas/Ft Worth area. Individuals should exercise due care and caution to avoid being victimized.  Check out the crime prevention tips posted by the SMU Police to deter these crimes or attend a crime prevention briefing.  

2.    Crime Alert (Off Campus)

SMU may issue a Crime Alert (off campus) for certain Clery Act crimes when timely notification is received by the SMU Police and the offense is considered to represent a serious or continuing threat to the students and employees of SMU due to the nature of the crime, and/or proximity to the main campus, the SMU-at-Legacy campus in Plano, Texas or the SMU at Taos campus in Taos, New Mexico.

Even though this action is not required by law, SMU strongly believes in supporting the spirit of the Clery Act by informing the community about certain crimes that are reported in the areas immediately surrounding our campuses; but outside the normal police patrol area.