We commend the Office of Safety and Security for their handling of Wednesday’s lockdown up until 5 p.m.
After that, we’re skeptical.
Safety and Security did well to send an e2Campus alert, and an email soon after, as soon as they heard of a potentially dangerous situation near campus.
“City police report a suspicious WM, armed and considered dangerous in the city. Please remain indoors,” the alert said.
About fifteen minutes after the initial alert, all members of the campus community received Safety and Security’s first of five campus-wide emails in the day about the suspect, Keith Green.
Safety and Security sent their last email of the day at 4:16 p.m. stating: “The suspicious person sought by the police has not yet been apprehended, although the search continues to focus on areas other than the Allegheny campus.”
Safety and Security’s last email of the day gave the impression that things were more or less okay. They asked students to continue the lockdown throughout the night. At the same time, they suggested going out in groups, implying that the campus was safe. The dining halls remained open so people could leave their rooms to get dinner. Students began walking around campus again.
The police had called off the search before five o’clock but began patrolling areas near campus again by 8:30 p.m.
The Campus wouldn’t have known if we hadn’t had access to police scanner. We continued reporting until the police left the area. We were updating students on Twitter and via our website articles.
When one student called Safety and Security concerned for her own safety, she was met with rudeness and nonchalance.
After Caitlyn Fuoco, ’13, read a tweet that said a man in a white shirt resembling the description of suspect Green was heading towards North Main St., she got concerned considering the last thing she heard from security was around four o’clocl.
So Fuoco called Safety and Security a little before ten o’clock to ask if they could send out another alert informing students of the current situation. She was answered by a staffer who did not mirror her concern.
“‘We sent the email out earlier,'” Fuoco said, recounting the staffer’s response. “‘I am not their mother. And they can make their own choices.'”
Therefore, Safety and Security never sent out another email Wednesday night alerting studnets that police were patrolling the area around Allegheny St., which borders campus to the north, around 10 p.m.
“The Office of Campus Safety provides protection…to the Allegheny community,” according to the Safety and Security website.
Safety and Security did not protect students Wednesday night after business hours.
If Safety and Security didn’t know the police were near campus again, they seem negligent; if they did know and decided not to notify students, they seem incompetent.
Without any sort of official dispatch updating students of the situation, the only way students might know if there were a fugitive in their backyard is if they found a fugitive in their backyard.
Even a quick update that the search for Green had again come close to campus would have re-informed students and reinforced the lockdown.
Over 27 hours after the emergency alert, the administration finally released a statement yesterday from President James Mullen, their first campus wide email, thanking students and other campus community members for their patience Wednesday. The administration had no presence whatsoever during the chaos, and never attempted to assure or talk to students.
We realize that Safety and Security does not have the means to directly confront a potentially armed fugitive. That goes double for President Mullen.
Their responsibility in situations like this is not law enforcement so much as communication, reassurance and protection.
By checking out after 5 p.m. and dismissing student concerns, they failed at all three.