Anti-Bias-Based and Anti-Racial Profiling Security Practices
The Vassar Safety and Security Department (the Department) prohibits the use of any bias-based profiling in its work. Such bias-based or racial profiling is not acceptable and undermines legitimate safety and security efforts and weakens the Vassar community as a whole.
The purpose of this Anti-Bias-Based/Anti-Profiling Policy is to:
- Create a campus environment that is safe for and supportive of all Vassar students, staff, and faculty, as well as guests and visitors from the larger community;
- Acknowledge that racial and bias-based profiling have historical roots in American society;
- Establish the steps with which we hope to eliminate racial and bias-based profiling at Vassar;
- Clarify how officers will record and use descriptive criteria of individuals in their work;
- Outline standards and procedures for:
- Officer training and education/professional development regarding bias-based profiling;
- Internal Department investigations of bias-based profiling complaints made against officers; and
- Compliance monitoring.
The Department exists to provide a safe, peaceful campus conducive to academic endeavors. The Department provides the highest possible professional level of safety and security to the Vassar College community. The Department’s geographical area of responsibility consists of the 1200 acre campus and the buildings therein. Its responsibility is focused on personal safety, prevention of crime and loss or damage to college or personal property, as well as enforcement of traffic and parking regulations.
A critical element in achieving public safety is building trust within the Vassar community where officers are seen as allies. Officers work with the campus community, furthering shared public safety goals. Bias-free interactions build trust in individual officers and the Department as a whole.
Officers must use their skills, training, and experience to detect evidence of prohibited activity, but it remains the College's duty to ensure that this work is carried out without bias. This policy contains general policies and procedures guiding officers when they initiate contact, document interactions, and disseminate information about individuals with whom the officers come into contact in the course of performing their security duties. With a clear set of descriptive criteria, policies, and procedures in use, the Department will:
- Provide guidance on constructive descriptors that reflect a respect for the diversity of individuals within our community;
- Improve the ability of security personnel to recognize and describe individuals during future encounters and investigations; and
- Establish a record of interactions from which accusations of discriminatory practices can be evaluated.
This policy is written specifically to address bias-based and racial profiling, and supplements the College’s existing policies, including its Nondiscrimination and Non-Harassment Policy and its Bias Incident and Hate Crime Policy.
To create a campus environment that is safe for and supportive of all, Vassar College prohibits bias, racial profiling, and discrimination as a general rule. Actions that violate this policy may constitute grounds for discipline.
Affiliated Individual – A person who is directly connected with the College, i.e. a current student, staff, faculty, alumnus, or board member.
Bias-Based Profiling – Stopping and questioning an individual, or identifying that individual as a potential suspect of criminal activity, without an articulable justification, but solely due to the individual’s race, color, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disability, and/or other characteristics described in Vassar College’s Nondiscrimination and Non-Harassment Policy, and as protected by Federal or State law.
Bias Incident – Any behavior or act – verbal, written, or physical - that is personally directed against or targets an individual or group based on perceived or actual characteristics such as race, color, religious belief, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national or ethnic origin, disability, veteran status, or age. The kinds of incidents that may constitute a bias incident include, but are not limited to, threatening calls or mail (including electronic mail), graffiti, physical assault, sexual assault or abuse, stalking, vandalism, destruction of personal property, harassment, or coercion. See College Regulations section on discrimination and harassment.
College Regulations – All regulations outlined in the Vassar College Regulations.
Criminal Activity/Behavior –Acts that violate the New York State Penal Law.
Field Contact – Questioning of individuals during the performance of official duties. Social greetings (Hello, Have a nice day, etc.) are not considered field contacts.
Guest or Invitee – An individual not currently connected with the College who is invited to campus by an affiliated individual, or who comes to campus to attend an alumni program or a program open to the public.
Non-Affiliated Individual – A person who is not an affiliated individual, guest, invitee, or on campus attending an event or program open to the public.
Preferred Descriptive Criteria – When describing an individual who is suspected of unlawful behavior, security officers typically rely on other physical attributes that aid in identification of the individual. Such descriptors may include hair color/length/style, body build/weight, tattoos, significant scars, body piercings, perceived sex or gender, complexion/skin color, age range, clothing, accessories (glasses, jewelry), and any other distinguishing factors.
Prohibited Behavior or Prohibited Activity – Activities or behavior that violate Vassar College Regulations, or state, federal, or local law.
Racial Profiling – Stopping and questioning an individual, or identifying that individual as a potential suspect of criminal activity, based solely on race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin, rather than on articulable justification.
Trespass – When an individual knowingly enters or remains unlawfully on campus or other Vassar property.
Bias-based profiling, including racial profiling, is strictly prohibited. All Department members will respond to requests for service, render aid and assistance, and investigate actual or potential prohibited or unsafe activities without engaging in bias-based profiling or racial profiling. Officers may initiate contact with or question individuals regarding suspected criminal, prohibited, or unsafe activities only when there exists specific, articulable, and bias-free facts that have reasonably and justifiably aroused suspicions of such activity. No officer may initiate contact or an investigation based solely on personal or societal biases or stereotypes.
While performing Safety and Security functions, officers will look for evidence of potential criminal, prohibited, or unsafe activity (i.e. a person walking around a residence hall and looking into room windows; a person taking another’s property, a person in a restricted area, a person in possession of weapons, drugs or alcohol, a person precariously leaning out of an upper story window), suspicious circumstances (i.e. a door found open to an area that is normally secured, property out of place, etc.), or other hazards that may endanger the health and/or welfare of the college community and its invitees (i.e. climbing off the roof of a building, throwing rocks at people or property) in an unbiased manner. In the event an officer identifies evidence of potential or actual prohibited, criminal or unsafe activity, or determines the need to initiate contact with or questions any individual, the officer must be able to articulate specific and bias-free facts, circumstances, and observations that reasonably and justifiably support the reason for investigating the suspicious activity, initiating contact with an individual, and/or questioning an individual regarding potential or actual criminal, prohibited, or unsafe activity.
A. Officers shall not contact and/or question an individual regarding suspected criminal, prohibited and/or unsafe conduct, without an articulable basis for doing so that is free of bias, stereotyping, and discrimination. (See Definition of Bias-Based Profiling.)
B. Officers will take action when observing criminal, prohibited, or unsafe conduct or when other trustworthy information or circumstances exist.
C. If contact is made with a person as a result of a response to a call from a third party, the caller must be asked to describe the behavior, activity or circumstances that raised suspicion. If the caller cannot articulate the behavior, activity or circumstances that would warrant questioning someone, the officer may respond to and observe the area to determine if a reasonable basis exists to approach individuals in the area about their presence or if other action is warranted without racial profiling or bias-based profiling.
D. All contact and questioning regarding actual or suspected unlawful, unsafe, or prohibited activities shall be conducted in accordance with the following directives:
- Officers will make every effort to be courteous, polite, and professional throughout the interaction.
- Officers will introduce themselves, providing their names, the name of their department, and an explanation of the reason for the contact, as soon as is practicable, unless doing so compromises the safety of officers or others.
- Officers may ask for an individual’s name and address when appropriate.
- Proof of identification may be requested if required for a legitimate, non-discriminatory purpose (examples may include, but are not limited to, situations in which age needs to be known to determine if an alcohol violation has occurred; identity needs to be confirmed for a Safety and Security report; to determine authorization to be in a building –if there is uncertainty that an individual is affiliated and they are in a building after hours –or if private or sensitive information needs to be delivered).
- Outside of College business hours, guests/invitees to campus not in the presence of their campus host and not at a public event, or not simply traversing campus to travel to an off-campus location should possess a guest pass as required in the Vassar College Student Handbook. (See Student Handbook for full Visitation/Guest College Regulation – hosts assume responsibility for their guest’s awareness of, and compliance with, Vassar College regulations.)
- Officers will ensure that the length of a contact is no longer than necessary to take appropriate actions.
- Officers will attempt to answer all reasonable questions that the individual may have, including options for disposition of related administrative actions and how to file a complaint against the officer, department, or College.
- If requested, officers will articulate the information that led to the contact when no security actions are taken, unless doing so compromises the safety of officers or others.
- Officers will always consider if a violation or crime has in fact occurred, and the level of severity, when determining what follow up processes are appropriate.
- If requested, officers will explain the Department’s personnel complaint process.
REPORTING OF ALL FIELD CONTACTS (To be implemented when software is programmed to catalog the data)
A. All field contacts between officers, in the course of performing their security officer duties, and non-officers will be documented for the purpose of evaluating complaints and assessing whether officers are participating in bias-based or racial profiling.
B. In documenting field contacts, the following cursory descriptive information, as perceived by the officer, shall be recorded on a field contact form (To be implemented when software is programmed to catalog the data). When information is not available, “n/a” will be placed on the corresponding field contact form line. The information will be based on the officer’s knowledge, training, perception and best judgment.
- Age (numerical range);
- Height, build (weight), hair color/length/style, tattoos, piercings;
- Clothing colors and styles;
- Gender (male, female, transgender, or unknown);
- Complexion/skin color (light/medium/dark, acne, scarring, freckles);
- Affiliation (Vassar student/faculty/staff/alumnae, visitor/guest, or unaffiliated).
C. Officers will contact local law enforcement when:
- Mandated by law, including but not limited to:
- Article 129-A of the New York State Education Law, which requires colleges to notify appropriate law enforcement of a report of a violent felony offense or a report that a student who resides in housing owned or operated by the College is missing.
- Article 129-B of the New York State Education Law, which requires colleges to implement uniform sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking prevention and response policies and procedures, including informing reporting individuals of their right to report to law enforcement.
- A victim of a crime would like to file a report with the local police.
- A motor vehicle accident has occurred that involves personal injury, damage to property, or when a motorist requests to report an accident to police.
- If the vehicle is Vassar-owned, the accident occurs on Vassar property, and there is no personal injury, it is not mandatory that local police are contacted.
- A non-affiliated individual is attempting to or has committed a crime (misdemeanor or felony) on campus.
- A non-affiliated individual is attempting to sleep/camp on Vassar property or within Vassar buildings.
- An individual is found violating a trespass notice.
- An individual is banned from campus by a court order (i.e. order of protection between two individuals banning one from going to the place of employment of a Vassar employee or place of school of a Vassar student).
- A physical safety threat exists.
- Other reasons when permitted by law.
REPORTING BIAS INCIDENTS AND HATE CRIMES
Incidents that involve physical harm or threat thereof should be reported to Vassar College Safety and Security immediately. Safety and Security will respond to and document all reports of bias incidents and hate crimes. Non-emergency incidents may also be reported to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA), the Campus Life and Diversity Office or online at: https://deanofthecollege.vassar.edu/birt/report-incident.html. The Dean of the College Division has established a Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) that assists the division in facilitating a coordinated campus response to reports of bias incidents, racial profiling, and hate crimes. Incidents of bias, racial profiling, or hate crimes are investigated and adjudicated to the full extent possible. Findings of responsibility through the college adjudication process may result in any number of sanctions up to and including dismissal from college. Criminal convictions may result in fines and/or terms of imprisonment.
(See the College’s Bias Incident and Bias Crime Policy.)
COMPLAINTS AGAINST DEPARTMENT PERSONNEL
Complaints may be filed against any member of the Department through the same procedures described in the Bias Incident and Bias Crime Policy, which states:
You may file a written report with Security (see attached complaint form), the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, or the Campus Life Office. Students may also report an incident to a house advisor through the 24-hour administrator on-call system. These offices and officers of the college are required to report all bias complaints that come to their attention. Individuals may still request that their complaint be anonymous. For more information about bias crimes or on or off-campus resources, please contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action at (845) 437-7584.
In order to further transparency and build trust, the complainant will be informed if the complaint was substantiated and if corrective action was taken. Any individual who desires to make a complaint to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action may do so by contacting the office directly or by completing a Racial Profiling or Bias Incident Report on the web at: http://eoaa.vassar.edu/hate-and-bias/
VI. CORRECTIVE MEASURES
A. Supervisors will continuously monitor personnel under their command and will take appropriate corrective measures whenever it is determined that personnel have engaged in bias-based or racial profiling.
B. Disciplinary measures will be issued by the Office of Human Resources and the Director of Safety and Security, consistent with union contract guidelines and/or college policy and may include, but are not limited to:
- Remedial training
- Verbal warning
- Written repriman
- Suspension, and/or
A. To ensure the College’s commitment to impartial, unbiased operations of the Safety and Security Department, the Director of Safety and Security will conduct an annual administrative review of the following:
- Relevant policies and procedures;
- All bias/racial profiling-related complaints against personnel;
- Field contact reports (when field contact reporting guidelines are programmed);
- Trespass or Persona Non Grata notices issued;
- Training undertaken and additional training needs.
The review will be shared with the College’s Safety and Security Advisory Committee. The Committee will make recommendations to the college administration.
B. The College’s Safety and Security Advisory Committee, the Office of Campus Life and Diversity, the Committee on Inclusion and Excellence, and the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action will be consulted for guidance of preferred training topics and to facilitate training programs.
C. The College will provide professional development opportunities for all Safety and Security department personnel. These opportunities may include shift briefings, in-service trainings, special presentations, and off-campus courses and workshops. They may include topics such as policy and procedure review, the recognition of implicit bias, de-escalation techniques, cultural competence, and others. Other training topics may be offered, as deemed necessary and appropriate by the Director of Safety and Security and/or the Executive Director of Human Resources.
The following professional development schedule will be implemented annually:
- In August of each academic year, the Director of Safety and Security will review this policy with Department personnel. Department personnel will sign a form indicating they have read and understand the policy.
- The form will be shared with the Safety and Security Advisory Committee to demonstrate compliance with this policy. Department personnel who do not comply with these requirements may be subject to corrective measures.
- In September of each year, the Director of Safety and Security will request suggestions for training and/or proposals for training that will promote the furtherance of the objectives contained within this policy from the Safety and Security Advisory Committee, the Office of Campus Life and Diversity, the Committee on Inclusion and Excellence, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, the African American Alumnae/i of Vassar College (AAAVC), and the Dean of the Faculty.
- Periodically through the year, Department personnel may be required to attend trainings that promotes the furtherance of the objectives contained within this policy. (Please note that the Department operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; each training session may need to be conducted twice to accommodate scheduling requirements.)
- Training curriculum offered to Department personnel will be shared with the Safety and Security Advisory Committee. Upon request, the Department will provide sign in sheets or other proof of attendance at such trainings to demonstrate compliance with this policy.
- At least one training per year will be conducted by an outside firm/trainer.
- Department personnel who do not participate in mandatory training sessions, without justification, will be subject to corrective and/or disciplinary measures, as appropriate for the circumstances involved.
Download the Anti Bias Based Profiling Policy Complaint Form.