Assemblyman Braunstein Announces Assembly and Senate Passage of Campus Safety Legislation

Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein (D-Bayside) and Senator Kathleen A. Marchione (R,C-Halfmoon) announced the unanimous passage of bipartisan legislation in the Assembly and Senate (A.2089/S.2753) that would mandate colleges and universities to notify the appropriate law enforcement agency no more than 24 hours after the report of a violent felony or missing person. This legislation passed the Assembly on May 5 and the Senate on June 11.

“The passage of the campus safety bill sends a strong message that New York State is taking the problem of campus sexual assault seriously,” said Assemblyman Braunstein. “The persistent number of violent crimes reported on college campuses is disturbing and simply inexcusable. More can and should be done to protect our students and ensure that college campuses are kept as safe as possible. It is the first of many steps we can take to cut down on campus assaults and give parents peace of mind while their children are away at college.”

“There is currently no law requiring that colleges and universities in New York, when informed about violent crimes committed on campus, notify local authorities in a timely manner,” said Assemblyman Braunstein. “Absent this requirement, colleges and universities sometimes attempt to handle these incidents in-house out of fear of generating negative publicity. This legislation will lead to an increased prosecution of criminals by ensuring that these assaults are reported to local law enforcement agencies, which are more properly trained to investigate serious criminal issues.”

Enacted in 1999, the Campus Safety Act required colleges and universities to adopt and implement plans for the notification to local law enforcement of any violent felony offense or missing person occurring at or on the grounds of each such institution. The Campus Safety Act required that plans be created, and not that colleges and universities must report violent felonies and missing persons to local law enforcement. The Campus Safety Act became law because of the tireless efforts of Doug and Mary Lyall, whose daughter, Suzanne Lyall, has been missing since disappearing from the University at Albany on March 2, 1998.

“In memory of Suzanne Lyall, and recognition of her parent’s Doug and Mary’s courageous, tireless advocacy on this issue, and for any individual who has been the victim of a violent crime on a campus, or gone missing from a campus, we must do everything we can to make our colleges and universities as safe as possible," said Senator Marchione. "This means ensuring that violent crimes are reported swiftly to local law enforcement. Our bill is a common sense solution intended to protect students and make our college and university campuses safer. By strengthening the Campus Safety Act, this bi-partisan legislation ensures that any crimes committed on a college campus are promptly, and accurately, reported to local law enforcement to ensure perpetrators are punished, victims are protected and can see justice. I was proud to partner with Assemblyman Braunstein and work in a bi-partisan fashion to pass this important bill."

“Mary and I have been, and continue to be, vitally interested in the cause of campus safety," said Doug Lyall. "Our mission, and our duty, is to do whatever we can to increase campus safety. This legislation – and hopefully law – will take the next step toward increasing campus safety to ensure that students are as safe as possible. Certainly, most college campuses are not equipped to deal with serious crimes and missing person’s cases. Delays are the enemy and time is of the essence when a crime or missing person case takes place, so this bi-partisan legislation is vital to ensure investigations take place in a timely and effective manner.”

Research by the United States Department of Justice and The White House Council on Women and Girls indicates that 1 in 5 college females has been the victim of a sexual assault, and only 12% of student victims report the assault to law enforcement. “All too frequently, we hear stories about on-campus crimes, often sexual in nature that are swept under the rug by colleges in an effort to protect their reputation,” said Assemblyman Braunstein. “This creates a system where criminals are not held accountable for their actions and parents are not provided with facts about the safety of the school where they send their children. The perpetrators of these crimes should be prosecuted in a court of law. As such, in addition to conducting internal investigations under Title IX and the Clery Act, colleges and universities should be compelled to inform local law enforcement agencies about these cases.”

This legislation complies with the federal Campus Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights, which gives the victim of a sexual offense the right whether or not to report such offense to local law enforcement agencies.