Crime Bulletin Criteria
Criteria for Using Physical Descriptions in Crime Bulletins
As of June 6, 2017, racial, ethnic, skin tone, and gender descriptors will
not be used in Crime Bulletins, End of Watch (EOW) Reports, Be on the Look Out
(BOLO) Reports, or Emergency Notifications.
However, detailed physical descriptions captured in a photograph, video, or sketch, can be used if the perpetrator(s):
- Pose a continuing viable threat to our community, and
- Have specific identifying factors that distinguish them from the general public. For example, scars, marks, tattoos, facial hair, clothing, stature, etc.
The photograph, video, or sketch may be distributed in a crime bulletin, or special bulletins distributed on campus. Certain characteristics mentioned above, such as scars, tattoos, etc. may be qualified in written form on the bulletin. This may also include a description of the Modus Operandi - mode of operating (MO).
During the summer of 2017, representatives from ASUSF, faculty, and staff, met to review the existing criteria used by Public Safety when describing suspects in crime bulletins. We collectively found the criteria did not support the purpose of a crime bulletin, which is to make people aware of crime incidents, nor was it consistent with the values and mission of the university. This is because the most unreliable evidence in a criminal event is most often an eyewitness account. (National Research Council. 2014. Identifying the Culprit: Assessing Eyewitness Identification. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/18891.)
Eyewitness accounts are most often vague, non- definitive, and inaccurate. As a result, often times, innocent people, predominantly people of color, are stereotyped and subjected to wrongful detentions. In addition to this, there is no benefit to the community at large. That is, vague and often inaccurate information does little to enable people to be more aware of their surroundings.