2020-2021 Crisis Response Plan

In the event a situation arises that constitutes an ongoing or continuing threat, a University- or Campus- wide “timely warning” will be issued via the SMU ALERT system. 

The University will:

“without delay, take into account the safety of the community, determine the content of the notification and initiate the notification system, unless the notification will, in the professional judgment of responsible authorities, compromise efforts to assist victims or to contain, respond to, or otherwise mitigate the emergency.” (Department of Education, July 2010)

 As part of Samuel Merritt University’s (SMU) plan to effectively respond to an emergency event on any of the campuses, an SMU ALERT communication system has been established.  The SMU ALERT system delivers critical information to the SMU community members on any communication device chosen (phone, email, SMS text, pager, or fax) and it is the most effective way to share updates and information in the event of an emergency.  In certain emergencies where the SMU ALERT system would not be as effective or access to internet or telecommunications are severely limited, the University may use University email, University phones, the University webpage, public address or fire alerting systems, and/or teams of runners.

All students, faculty and staff are automatically enrolled in the SMU ALERT system that has been initially populated with phone numbers and/or SMU email address.  You may store additional numbers for voice messages, text messages, email addresses for alerts, or change your phone number or email address.

Go to http://www.samuelmerritt.edu/smu_alert, click the button to “Update My Contact Information,” log in, and enter additional methods for contact or change them.  

It is the responsibility of all students, faculty and staff to update personal information on a regular basis.  There is also an opt-out button if you do not wish to receive any emergency communications from the University, although this is not the recommended choice.

The system is designed for use only when an incident disrupts normal campus operations or threatens the immediate health and safety of the campus community.  

Anyone with information warranting a timely warning or Clery defined crimes should report the circumstances to the Safety and Security Specialist, Trevor Flanary, at 510-879-9200 x7558 or tflanary@samuelmerritt.edu , or in person at Health Education Center #216, 400 Hawthorne Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609.

The Crisis Response Plan may be activated during a community or regional crisis that may impact University personnel or business operations. For example, a utility outage in nearby areas, a serious toxic spill on a major highway, or a brushfire in a local area may necessitate a plan activation to coordinate safety precautions or emergency information and support services for personnel.

Samuel Merritt University maintains a major emergency in the community that affects or potentially threatens students, faculty, and/or staff is a University emergency. 

The University’s Crisis Response Manual includes information about the structure of the crisis response and who will be involved in assessing and responding to a crisis.  In addition, departments are expected to develop contingency plans and evacuation procedures, and individuals are expected to have their own safety kits and procedures in place as well as to know the plan.  The University conducts a training activity or drill each year (which may include tabletop exercises, functional exercises, or full scale exercises), participates in the crisis planning procedures of the medical center (the parent organization), and tests the emergency notification system on an annual basis. These tests and drills may be announced or unannounced, and the scenarios for these tests and drills will vary from year to year. SMU will publish a summary of its test.

All members of the SMU community are notified on an annual basis that they are required to notify the University (through the individuals identified below) of any situation or incident on campus that involves a significant emergency or dangerous situation that may involve an immediate or ongoing threats to the health and safety of students and/or employees on campus.  The University administration will determine if the situation does in fact pose a threat to the community. If it is the case, Federal law requires the institution to immediately notify the campus community or the appropriate segments of the community that may be affected by the situation.

Timely Warning

 As chair of the of the Crisis Response Team, the Safety and Security Specialist or a designee, will develop timely warning notices for the University Community to notify members of the community about serious crimes against people that occur on campus, where it is determined that the incident may pose an ongoing threat to members of the SMU community. These warnings will be distributed if the incident is reported either to the Crisis Response Team directly or to the Crisis Response Team indirectly through a campus security authority or the local PD.

The department issues/posts Crime Alerts for incidents of 

  • Criminal Homicide

  • Aggravated assault (cases involving assaults among known parties, such as two roommates fighting which results in an aggravated injury, will be evaluated on a case by case basis to determine if the individual is believed to be an on-going threat to the larger SMU community)

  • Robbery involving force or violence (cases including pick pocketing and purse snatching will typically not result in the issuance of a Crime Alert, but will be assessed on a case by case basis)

  • Sexual Assault (considered on a case by case basis depending on the facts of the case, when and where the incident occurred, when it was reported, and the amount information known by the Oakland/Sacramento/San Mateo Police Departments)

  • Major incidents of arson 

  • Other crimes as determined necessary by the chair of the Crisis Response Team or the President, or their designee in their absence

The description of subjects in a case will only be included in the alert if there is a sufficient amount of detail to describe the individual; If the only known descriptors are sex and race, that will not be included in the alert. 

As chair of the Crisis Response Team, the Safety and Security Specialist will draft an email containing the proposed Crime Alert, may coordinate with the Director of Communications and/or President, and then transmit the email containing the Crime Alert to the University Community as a blast email. Updates to the SMU community about any particular case resulting in a crime alert also may be distributed electronically via blast email or posted on the University’s Website.

The Crime Alert may also be distributed by ABSMC Security, ABSMC Crisis Team, SMU Board of Regents, and/or to other individuals, as they deem necessary and appropriate. Crime Alerts may also be posted in campus buildings, when deemed necessary. When a Crime Alert is posted in campus buildings, it shall be printed and be posted in the lobby/entrance area of the affected building(s) for seven (7) days.

The department does not issue Crime Alerts for the above listed crimes if:

  1. The subject(s) is/are apprehended by the local PD and the threat of imminent danger for members of the SMU community has been mitigated by the apprehension.

  2. If the Safety and Security Specialist was not notified of the crime in a manner that would allow the posting of a “timely” warning for the community. A general guideline will include a report that is filed more than five days after the date of the alleged incident may not allow the Safety and Security Specialist to post a “timely” warning to the community. This type of situation will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Emergency Notifications

The Director of Information Technology Services (ITS) has been designated as responsible for issuing these emergency notifications. The members of the Crisis Response Team may also initiate emergency notifications if the Director of ITS is unable. The Chair of the Crisis Response Team will confirm there is an emergency or dangerous situation that poses an immediate threat to the health and safety of some or all of the members of the SMU community and will collaborate with the President (or designee) and the Director of ITS to determine the content of the message. They will use some or all of the systems described above to communicate the threat to the University community or to the appropriate segment of the community, if the threat is limited to a particular building or segment of the population.  

If a serious crime, a natural disaster or a man-made emergency occurs that poses an immediate threat to the SMU community or a segment of the SMU community, Federal Law requires that the institution immediately notify the campus community or the appropriate segments of the community that may be affected by the situation. If the institution implements the procedures regarding notification of the SMU community for an immediate threat, the institution is not obligated to implement the timely warning notice procedures. The types of incidents that may cause an immediate threat to the SMU community could include but are not limited to emergencies such as: an active shooter on campus, hostage/barricade situation, a riot, suspicious package with confirmation of a device, a tornado, a fire/explosion, suspicious death, structural damage to an SMU owned or controlled facility, biological threat (anthrax, etc.), significant flooding, a gas leak, hazardous materials spill, etc.

Before an emergency, determine the nearest exit to your location, the safest route to follow, and alternate exits. Leave the immediate area, but remain available to emergency personnel. If time permits during an evacuation, secure your workplace and take personal items such as keys, bag, medication, and glasses. In case of fire or other dangerous conditions, evacuate immediately leaving personal items behind. 

Individuals who are unable for any reason to use the emergency stairwells without assistance, including those with temporary disabilities, may need additional assistance. The University strongly recommends that advanced planning is crucial, and guide individuals to work with their Floor Wardens or Facilities department on developing a plan that the individual may implement.

  • People with disabilities who may have trouble exiting the building during an emergency are encouraged to self-identify to the Safety Warden, but self-identification is optional and not mandated by the University.

  • The University will designate "buddies" to assist anyone who needs assistance during an emergency, whether students, visitors, or employees.  Buddies should be given some minimal training/guidance by the University, and be made aware of who self-identified as needing assistance, so they can work out a plan ahead of time for safely exiting the building together.

  • The University has established that the exiting stairwells be the designated waiting areas, where people who are unable to exit the building unassisted may remain temporarily in safety to await assistance during an emergency evacuation.  A list or map of these areas will be made available to all employees posted.  In the event of an actual emergency, the University will provide the information of designated waiting areas to first responders.

  • The University will designate Floor Wardens to check and verify that everyone made it out, including individuals with disabilities.  In the event a person can't be located, the Floor Warden would provide this information to emergency personnel immediately.

Subject to safety considerations, mobility aids (wheelchair, walker, cane, etc.) should brought out with the individual when possible.