WKUPD Initiates Emergency Alert System


Amelia Hicks

The WKU Police Department has an emergency alert system to mass communicate with the student body and community. .

Students have the option to sign up for the emergency alert system on TopNet.

“An emergency alert is sent out whenever there is reasonable evidence to believe that an imminent threat to campus exists either on or near the campus,” Tim Gray, WKUPD’s public information officer, said.

Such incidences include shots fired, emergency weather or mysterious men with swords, Gray said.

Amanda Devine, a sophomore from Owensboro, said the alert system is not always perfect.

“In the past I have found out things on Twitter, then much later I get an alert,” Devine said. “The last time it happened I was near an area the alert was about, and if I had gotten the alert sooner, I would not have gone to that area.”

Devine said also the messages are usually “pretty vague” but still provide important information for campus safety.

Gray said the alerts allow WKUPD to keep campus updated.

“We are able to deploy concise, time-sensitive messaging that will help contain rumors, restore and manage campus safety, as well as keep the community informed with pertinent information,” Gray said.

WKUPD relies on the alert system to effectively communicate directly with students, said Gray.

“On a university campus, disaster can hit at any moment,” Gray said. “During the event of an emergency or emerging threat, it’s important to have a reliable means of communication to report critical information to all on campus.”

Olivia Evans, a sophomore from Cincinnati, Ohio, said she signed up for the alerts “to be more aware of what is happening around campus.”

“Every time a serious alert is sent, my friends usually ask if I’m safe, and we make sure everyone is being more careful,” Evans said.

WKU communication officers initiate the alert messages in the event of an emergency under the authority of a shift manager or supervisor, Gray said. Non-emergency situations are handled by the office of public affairs, said Gray.

“In the case of an emergency, an all-clear message will be sent once the situation is under control,” Gray said.

The alert system works best when all students are receiving the messages, Gray said. He said students have to manually sign up to receive messages which means “some won’t and they’ll be left out of the loop when it comes to the text messaging.”

Officers are careful to not overcrowd the alert system with incorrect or unnecessary information, according to Gray.

“Using the network too often may lead students to become irritated with the service and either opt out of it or ignore it,” Gray said. “So that too makes it all the more critical that we are able to verify a threat as quickly and accurately as possible before sending out a notification.”

News reporter Amelia Hicks can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].