The Eagle Alert system: how it works

George Andersen

The Eagle Alert system, intended to alert students, faculty and staff to emergency situations on and near campus, does not report all nearby crimes in Statesboro.

According to the Georgia Southern University website, the Eagle Alert system is managed jointly by IT Services, the Office of Public Safety and the Office of Marketing and Communications.

The Eagle Alert system has been active since 2012 under the Clery Act, which was passed in 1990 and gives guidelines that pertain to campus crime to universities. The Clery Act guidelines include giving notifications to students during emergencies and supporting and helping victims of violence.

The Clery Act states that upon confirmation of an emergency that would directly threaten the campus community, students and faculty must be notified.

Some examples of threats include robbery, armed shooter, civil unrest, approaching hurricane, bomb threat or any other immediate threat to the campus community.

According to the GS Division of Public Safety’s 2016 Annual Security Report, there are three basic guidelines that must be met in order to implement an Eagle Alert:

  • A crime is committed.

  • The perpetrator has not been apprehended.

  • There is substantial risk to physical safety of other members of the campus community because of this crime.

GS may release an Eagle Alert in the event of an off-campus crime if it takes place in a location used and frequented by the University population. The University evaluates each situation to determine whether each of the guidelines are met and if an Eagle Alert is needed.

While the Eagle Alert system alerts students and faculty to many crimes on and off campus, there have been cases near campus that seemed to meet all of the guidelines, but were not determined to require alerts.

In the Fall 2016 semester, students did not receive Eagle Alerts during two armed robberies in off-campus apartment complexes, one of which involved a fatal shooting, and in the other, an assault against a police officer.

In both cases, a suspect fled on foot and was not apprehended in the hours following the crime.

While the Eagle Alert system can be a useful tool for alerting students, faculty, staff and parents to emergency situations, not all crime near campus is reported through it.