New York’s Campus Safety Act: Proposed Legislation to Require Notice of Violent Felonies and Missing Persons
June 11, 2014
By: Paul J. Avery
The New York State Senate passed a bill today that would amend New York’s Campus Safety Act to require institutions, effective immediately upon its enactment, to notify law enforcement of any report of a violent felony or that a student who resides in institution owned or operated student housing is missing. The proposed legislation, which was previously passed by the New York State Assembly on May 5, 2014, will now be presented to the Governor for signature. Under the proposed legislation, institutions would be required to notify law enforcement as soon as practicable, but no later than 24 hours after receiving any such report. The New York State Education Law currently requires institutions to adopt and implement plans for notifying law enforcement, but does not mandate that notification be given. Under federal law, the Clery Act requires institutions to have a policy that encourages the reporting of all crimes to campus police and to law enforcement. The Clery Act already requires institutions to notify law enforcement when any student who lives in on-campus housing has been determined to be missing for 24 hours. Therefore, if the proposed legislation is enacted, institutions would comply with its missing student notification requirements by continued compliance with the notification procedures required under the Clery Act. Notably, the proposed legislation’s reporting requirements “shall take into consideration applicable federal law, including, but not limited to, the federal Campus Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights under Title 20 U.S. Code Section 1092(f) which gives the victim of a sexual offense the right on whether or not to report such offense to local law enforcement agencies.” This language makes clear that if a sexual assault occurs which constitutes a violent felony under New York State law, an institution’s reporting requirements under the proposed legislation would give way to the rights of the victim under federal law to decide whether or not to report the incident.