It is the policy of Skidmore College to actively investigate any report of a missing student who is enrolled at the College as either a full or part time student. There will be NO waiting period before the commencement of an investigation, and procedures will be governed by federal, state, and local law. A missing student is a Level 2 (Major) Emergency. Below are some investigative considerations and not all of these will be performed in every case. The items are listed in no particular order.
1. General questions
- Is the student missing from the campus, their family residence, or another location?
- Is there a witness to or physical evidence of an abduction or other foul play?
- Is the student despondent or mentally or physically disabled?
- Is the student experiencing academic, personal, or financial problems?
- Has the student disappeared before?
- Does the student have a known drug and/or alcohol problem?
- Has the student received any threats or warnings?
- What is the student's lifestyle? Does the student have a criminal record?
- Did the student or perpetrator leave a note?
- Have similar incidents been reported within the area (attempted abductions, suspicious persons)?
- Is there a history of Domestic/Dating Violence, Stalking or Order of Protection?
- Is there any interaction between Local Law Enforcement and the student?
2. Initial response
- Begin an incident report. Obtain as many details as possible from complainant.
- Promptly dispatch officer(s) to conduct a preliminary investigation. Inform responding officer(s) of all pertinent information.
- Provide pertinent information to appropriate area law enforcement agencies.
- Obtain a photograph of the student.
- Inform supervision about the incident. The Director of Campus Safety (or designee) will advise the Emergency Management Team.
- Maintain all notes, records, and recordings of telephone and radio communications.
- Search department records and advise investigating officer(s) and/or supervisor about any pertinent information found.
- As the investigation progresses, ensure that pertinent details are continually relayed to patrols and to other area agencies.
- Make notifications to college administration in accordance with established policies and procedures.
- Prepare a flyer/bulletin and distribute.
3. Investigation – most of these steps will be performed by police – assist where you can
- No investigative steps should be undertaken that could interfere with law enforcement’s efforts. Once reported to the police they control the investigation.
- Interview the person(s) who reported the disappearance; verify accuracy of information already provided.
- Determine if outside assistance is necessary and request.
- Determine the circumstances associated with the disappearance.
- Consider sending a Safety Alert.
- Provide regular updates to Campus Safety Administrator so they can keep the Emergency Management Team updated.
- Obtain and document all available details regarding circumstances associated with the disappearance.
- Secure and evaluate the abduction site (if applicable), last known location and/or scene and residence.
- If a witnessed abduction, obtain all details pertaining to the missing student, perpetrator, and event. Police will need this information for an Amber Alert.
- If the cause of the disappearance is uncertain, obtain relevant background information.
- Make an initial determination regarding the disappearance category.
- Obtain detailed descriptions of the missing student, abductor, vehicles and circumstances.
- Obtain the student’s identification, campus account, and social security numbers.
- Obtain locations of residences, places frequented, and employment.
- Obtain academic and work schedules.
- Obtain information about automobiles registered to or used by the student.
- Obtain information about parents/family members, romantic interests, roommate(s), and friends/acquaintances.
- Obtain information about instructors/professors, workplace colleagues, residence hall staff, and others.
- Continue to verify when, where, and by whom the missing student was last seen.
- Interview individuals who may have had contact with the student prior to the disappearance.
- If abduction is suspected, obtain descriptions of the perpetrator.
- Obtain information about involved vehicles; including time and direction of travel.
- Search the abduction site, place where the student was last seen, and/or any others recent locations.
- Secure the student's residence as a potential source of information and evidence.
- Request investigative and/or supervisory assistance, if warranted.
- Ensure that all additional responding personnel are thoroughly briefed.
- Institute (or continue) area canvasses for witness information and searches of all surrounding areas, including vehicles.
- Ensure that all potential evidence is properly handled.
- Everyone should be interviewed separately. Obtain, document, and evaluate all information provided.
- Ensure that use of student accounts/passwords is monitored. Obtain a record of recent transactions and points of access from I.T.
- Prepare, update, and disseminate informational bulletins to police agencies.
- Ensure that all computers used by the missing student are handled as evidence.
- Ensure that family members have been notified and interviewed.
- Advise family members about support services.
- Advise parents/family members to maintain a log that records information about all visitors and callers.
- Assign a liaison to ensure that family members are provided with information and support.
- Obtain and examine student’s Internet service provider and e-mail records. Monitor messaging and other on-line activity.