Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

U-M revises trespass warning policy

A revised Department of Public Safety policy on trespass warnings includes a number of changes that will more clearly spell out the scope and the reason for the warnings. The policy also makes it clear that faculty, students and staff may be issued trespass warnings only in extenuating circumstances.

The new policy, effective July 1, is the outgrowth of a policy review carried out by Vice President and General Counsel Suellyn Scarnecchia in collaboration with DPS Interim Executive Director Joe Piersante. Scarnecchia also consulted with nearly a dozen different interested groups, both on and off campus.

President Mary Sue Coleman asked Scarnecchia to lead a review of the trespass policy after the campus chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union raised questions about its use of the state law on the Ann Arbor campus.

"This revised policy resolves a number of issues that were very important to the university community," Scarnecchia says. "The policy balances the need to preserve a safe campus environment with a more specific approach to the trespass warnings."

Key to the new policy is the recognition that the trespass policy is enforced in the context of related university policies, especially these three:

• Freedom of Speech and Artistic Expression —

• Violence in the University Community —

• Faculty Senate Assembly Statement on Academic Freedom —

Duration of the trespass warning is limited to one year, unless cause exists to extend it. If, during review, the warning is extended, the reason must be documented in writing and the individual must receive notice from DPS of the extension. Extension beyond a year may be appealed.

"The Department of Public Safety supports these changes," Piersante says. "We want a policy that is clear to our officers and clear to the university community. This revised policy accomplishes that."

The Departments of Public Safety on the Flint and Dearborn campuses are expected to adopt similar policies in the near future.

The scope and reason for the trespass warning will be more clearly spelled out in the revised trespass warning form that will be handed to anyone issued a trespass warning.

The warning form is being modified to give officers the option to warn against entry into one or more particular locations, rather than the entire campus. There also is an opportunity for the officer to issue a trespass warning that applies to all U-M campuses.

A trespass warning may be issued by a DPS officer to an individual who engages in criminal behavior, refuses or fails to comply with established university rules that protect the health and safety of persons or property, disrupts the lawful functions of the university or demonstrates a risk of physical harm or injury to persons or property. Those four possible reasons will be included on the warning form and the officer must indicate which reason applies.

Trespass warnings are authorized under state law to allow property owners to refuse access to the property. On the U-M campus, DPS officers are authorized to issue the warnings. Once issued, the warning puts the individual on notice that returning to campus could lead to arrest.

Other aspects of the revised policy include these:

• A requirement that all warnings must be shared with the officer's supervisor at the end of his or her shift for possible rescission or modification by the DPS executive director.

• The trespass warning form will state that the person may receive medical care at a U-M Health System facility, unless indicated otherwise on the warning form.

• Appeals will continue to be heard by the DPS executive director, but the policy will require that appeal meetings must be scheduled within 30 days of the request for an appeal and a decision must be issued within 10 business days.

• Unsatisfactory appeal decisions may be appealed to the associate vice president for facilities and operations or that person's designee with similar timing requirements.

• DPS annually will share data related to trespass warnings, stripped of all individual identifying information, with the Campus Safety and Security Advisory Committee.

In 2010, DPS issued 295 trespass warnings. A small number of those (21) were issued to individuals affiliated with the university. Overall, about 1,800 individuals have been issued trespass warnings since 2001.

Those past warnings, which had no expiration date, are now under review by DPS for possible termination.