Following active shooter scare, DPSS signs students up for emergency alerts

Thursday, March 21, 2019 - 7:19pm

DPSS Officer Marty Morales helping students with emergency alerts registrations in the Shapiro Undergraduate Library Thursday afternoon.

DPSS Officer Marty Morales helping students with emergency alerts registrations in the Shapiro Undergraduate Library Thursday afternoon. Buy this photo
Madeline Hinkley/Daily

On Thursday morning, the Division of Public Safety and Security stationed a table in the Shapiro Undergraduate Library aimed at signing students and faculty up for emergency alerts through the DPSS app. The table was run by Central Student Government members who assisted DPSS officers in registering students for the alerts.

The idea for the table came after reports of an active shooter shook the campus Saturday afternoon. The first calls alleging an active shooter on campus came in at about 4:35 p.m. and the University sent out a “run, hide, fight” alert to students between 5:04 p.m. and 5:06 p.m. At 7:51 p.m., DPSS announced that there was no evidence of an active threat to the community. Many students said while the DPSS alerts kept them updated on the situation, they were concerned with the amount of time it took to receive these announcements over email.

LSA sophomore Kyle Arnashus said Saturday’s events made him realize the importance of strong communication between officials during a crisis.

“There were a lot of people concerned about the effectiveness of the alert system they have in place right now and other methods of communication through DPSS, Washtenaw County Police, Ann Arbor police and all of those organizations,” Arnaschus said. “I was listening to the Washtenaw County police feed and I was listening in real time to the breakdown of communication that was happening. So this is an improvement in the communication between these organizations.”

The reports of an active shooter came in during a vigil on the Diag commemorating the victims of the mosque attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand. Students, faculty and community members attending the vigil were told to flee when DPSS received the alerts. Evie Winter, LSA sophomore and chief of staff for CSG, said CSG acknowledged how upsetting Saturday’s events were for many students and said she hoped these direct alerts would make students feel more secure.

“As representatives for the student body, we recognize that the events of Saturday were really traumatic for a lot of students and also recognize that a lot of people had questions about ‘how come I didn’t get an emergency alert sooner?’ or ‘why didn’t I get an emergency alert at all?’” Winter said. “Then we realized that a lot of people aren’t signed up for them.”

DPSS Lieutenant Bryan Baker helped students sign up for alerts through Wolverine Access Thursday and said the goal of the table was to streamline the alert system and make it as uniform as possible.

“Anytime there’s a situation that happens on campus, we want students and our community to know about it,” Baker said. “We want them to be in the know, to get the information as fast as possible. We know that there are multiple ways they can get alerts, we saw that last weekend, but what we are doing here today is making sure students, faculty and staff are signed up in Wolverine Access.”

Baker also noted how the University is still working to ensure that the alert system is as effective as possible and students are notified of emergency situations immediately.

“DPSS and the University are looking into our notifications and how we can always improve upon that,” Baker said. “Obviously, for Saturday’s events, we had a lot of information that was going out as well as coming into the campus, so we knew that there were some challenges with that and we’re always looking for how to improve it.”