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Missing Person Policy

Missing Person Policy

The purpose of this policy is to establish protocols for Bridgewater College’s response to reports of missing students. This policy applies to students who reside in on-campus student housing facilities. In accordance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, students will be notified annually of this policy and the procedures for designating missing person contact information.

Definition of a “Missing Person”

For purposes of this policy, a student may be considered to be a “missing person” if the student’s absence is contrary to his or her usual behavior patterns, plans, or routines, and there is reason to believe that unusual circumstances may have caused the absence. Such circumstances may include, but are not limited to, a report or suspicion that the missing person may be the victim of foul play, has expressed suicidal thoughts, is drug dependent, is in a life-threatening situation, has been with persons who may endanger the student’s welfare, or is overdue to return to campus and is unheard from after giving a return time to friends or family. For purposes of this policy, the determination that a student is a “missing person” shall be made by the Chief of Campus Police or designee.

Procedures for Designation of Missing Person Contact Information

Students residing in on-campus student housing facilities will be given the opportunity each academic year to designate an individual or individuals to be contacted by the College within 24 hours after the time that the student is determined to be missing in accordance with this policy. This missing person contact can be anyone. This option is provided to students residing in on-campus student housing facilities even if a student has already registered an individual as a general emergency contact. The student also has the option to identify the same individual(s) for both their general emergency contact and missing person contact. A designation of a missing person contact will remain in effect until changed or revoked by the student.

Contact information provided by students will be registered confidentially, will be accessible only to authorized campus officials, and will not be disclosed, except to law enforcement personnel in furtherance of a missing person investigation.

Students may register an individual(s) as a missing person contact through the Self Service Main Menu in MyBC.

Procedures for Responding to a Report of a Missing Person

Any individual, including College students and employees, who suspects that a student may be missing, or who is made aware by and source that a student may be missing, must immediately notify a member of Campus Police and Safety either by calling extension 5609 (off campus: (540) 828-5609) or in person at the Campus Police and Safety Office on campus.

Upon receiving a report that that a student may be missing, Campus Police and Safety will immediately initiate an investigation and make appropriate notification to the Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students or designee.

Campus Police will gather all essential information about the residential student from the reporting person, other individuals with relevant information, and College records (e.g., description, clothes last worn, where student might be, who student might be with, vehicle description, information about the physical and mental wellbeing of the student, an up-to-date photograph, class schedule), and conduct a search of campus buildings, grounds, and parking lots. Appropriate College personnel may be asked to assist in the search for the student. Every effort will be made to make contact directly with the student.

No later than 24 hours after a determination is made that a student residing in an on-campus student housing facility is missing, the following notifications will be made:

  • (A) The Chief of Police or Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students, or designee, will inform the local law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction in the area in which the student is believed to be missing, regardless of whether the student has identified a missing person contact, and regardless of the student’s age.
  • (B) The Chief of Police or Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students, or designee, will inform the local law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction in the area in which the student is believed to be missing, regardless of whether the student has identified a missing person contact, and regardless of the student’s age.
  • (C) The Chief of Police or Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students, or designee, will inform the local law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction in the area in which the student is believed to be missing, regardless of whether the student has identified a missing person contact, and regardless of the student’s age.