Skip to Main Content
Skidmore College
Emergency Preparedness

Missing Student


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.  

Investigative Guide

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.