NY Senate expected to pass college safety bill

Created: 06/06/2014 8:40 PM WHEC.com
By: Associated Press

Sixteen years after the disappearance of a University at Albany student, lawmakers are asking to update state law to require New York colleges and universities to inform law enforcement within 24 hours of a violent felony or a missing student.

The state Legislature passed the Campus Safety Act in 1999, a year after Suzanne Lyall disappeared. It requires colleges and universities to have plans for notifying local law enforcement of any violent felony offense or missing person on campus. But it didn't require the schools to actually report such incidents to outside authorities.

The University at Albany and the State University of New York Cortland have their own police force on campus that investigates violent felonies. A spokesman for SUNY Cortland says the school's police department has a memorandum of understanding between campus police and the city police department regarding the investigations.

Sarah Lawrence College and the Binghamton University, which are under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education for possible violations of federal law over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints, did not immediately respond to a question seeking comment on their protocol for investigating felonies.

Sen. Kathleen Marchione, a Republican from the Albany area and sponsor of the bill, said that her legislation will not interfere with the Federal Campus Sexual Assault Victims' Bill of Rights, which gives the victim of a sexual offense the ability to choose whether or not to report the offense to the police.

In 2012, the University at Albany reported 10 forcible sex offenses on campus and SUNY Cortland reported two last year.

The Democrat-led Assembly passed the measure in early May, but after a month the Republican-led Senate has yet to take up the legislation it passed last year.

Scott Reif, a spokesman for the Republican conference, said the conference is looking at hundreds of bills before session concludes June 19 and is likely to pass the measure once again.

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