Schools decide when to send campus emergency alerts - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Schools decide when to send campus emergency alerts

(Source: KFVS 12) (Source: KFVS 12)
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - As the ability to send out emergency alerts on college campuses becomes easier, the decision on what information to send becomes more important.

Southeast Missouri State Department of Public Safety director Doug Richards trains his staff regularly on how to respond in case of a campus emergency.

"I think we are the front line of safety as far campus goes," Richards said. "Communication is key."

It consists of communicating among officers in the field working to gather information and if a threat exists, alerting the public.

"We have numerous methods that we can approach that with."

Text message, email, network and social media alerts are just a few ways police can get the word out.

However, situations over the last week on two separate campuses show it's not a perfect system.

On Wednesday night, police shot and killed an armed robber in a University of Missouri parking garage.

No alert went out to students until well after the incident was over.

On the same day, police at Southern Illinois University alerted students to a reported assault that turned out to be false.

Richards said every situation is different, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

"If there is an existing threat, no decision in that, alerts go out," he said.

He said it's always a balance of speed and accuracy.

"You don't want to put out a bunch of false information,” Richards said. “So you've got to have to time to gather the facts and get accurate information out."

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