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Safety first: Keep safe, stay informed

August 31, 2016

Truth: Stuff happens no matter where you live.

What’s different about NIU and your hometown, however, is that we’re going to tell you about these incidents as quickly as possible.

Safety bulletins from NIU proactively inform you about crimes that recently occurred on or near campus so you can take the appropriate precautions. They also work to prevent similar crimes and assist us in identifying offenders.

Our reasons are simple.

For one, it’s required by law. More importantly, we care deeply about the safety of everyone in the university community, including students, faculty, staff and our neighbors in DeKalb. At the same time, we believe in exercising an abundance of caution.

NIU Police Chief Tom Phillips considers the safety of everyone “the top priority” for the NIU Department of Police and Public Safety, which also offers community safety services and safety education opportunities.

“When serious incidents or emergencies occur, we want to ensure our community is informed and provided directions on ensuring their safety. To accomplish this task, we use our Safety Bulletin system to ‘warn’ our community about recent crimes and ‘alert’ our community about emergencies,” Phillips says.

“We take each incident seriously,” the chief adds. “Each report is evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine if a warning or alert is warranted and, if so, the best method of delivery to our community, whether it’s an email, text message, post to the website or social media.”

Meanwhile, the university has launched a downloadable app to receive these types of notifications.  Only users with an NIU login ID and password can enable notifications through the app, which can be configured to sound an audible tone and display the notification when a safety bulletin is issued.

Because everyone has a role to play in the safety and security of the university community, it’s important to read messages that are sent and do as instructed.

Here’s a quick guide of our three types of safety communications.

  • Emergency Alerts are initiated upon confirmation that an emergency is currently occurring, or is imminently threatening people on campus. We want to notify as many people as possible, and as rapidly as possible, of dangerous situations with instructions and follow-up information as needed.
  • Timely Warnings are initiated when certain serious crimes occur on or near campus; these could include a series of burglaries, a recent robbery or others that meet the reporting requirements of the Clery Act. Because these pose no immediate threat, NIU Police use timely warning to advise community members of precautionary measures and to seek information on these crimes. Not all crimes rise to this level.
  • Community Awareness Bulletins disseminate information in the interest of community well-being. Their information on health and safety issues – crime prevention, traffic and weather information, for example – allows people to make informed decisions.

“Our notification system integrates with social media,” Phillips says, “but it is important to distinguish that the warnings and alerts are not intended to provide ‘breaking news.’ Rather, our mission is to warn you about serious situations and provide guidance on what steps you can take to protect yourself.”

To receive text messages for emergency alerts, make sure your mobile phone number is in our system by visiting http://www.niu.edu/emergencyinfo/register/index.shtml.