Editorial: UCLA needs emergency notification system now

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  • Editorial: UCLA needs emergency notification system now

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Editorial: UCLA needs emergency notification system now

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Friday, May 18, 2007

UCLA and university police proved Wednesday that, far from their recent assurances of campus safety, their emergency response does not provide nearly enough immediate notification, leaving the campus unaware of possible danger.

Around 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, local authorities received reports of an individual in the possession of some sort of weapon - possibly a rifle - in Westwood's North Village.

The reports sent a swarm of Los Angeles Police Department cruisers to the North Village. Cars blocked several streets in an attempt to control traffic and prevent individuals from walking into potentially dangerous areas.

About three blocks away, UCLA continued to go about its business as if there were not a care in the world.

In the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, it is remarkable - and unacceptable - that any immediate danger to the UCLA community was not communicated promptly to the entire campus.

Given the recent announcements and assurances made by UCLA officials regarding campus safety, it is natural to think the university would have a short-term plan in place to deal with emergencies until a more comprehensive plan were in effect.

Thankfully, the individual was not in possession of a rifle, but rather a crossbow, and no one was injured. But the situation could have been very different - and more dangerous - based on the initial reports.

In a recent public meeting, Acting Chancellor Norman Abrams addressed how UCPD has been prepared for active-shooter situations since the 1999 Columbine shootings, so we know the police do have a plan in place.

Of course, it is not expected that at the slightest hint of danger UCLA would break out megaphones, sound alarms and call in the National Guard.

But to leave the community completely in the dark until more than an hour after the incident is over is simply unacceptable, and the university should be working more vigorously with UCPD to develop a response plan for reports of danger in and around UCLA.

As it was, many students, faculty and staff were left completely unaware of the situation unless they were at a computer to check either the UCPD or the Daily Bruin Web site for breaking news updates.

By the end of the day, the only notification of the incident sent to any members of the UCLA community came in the form of an e-mail by K.C. Kainsinger, UCPD emergency medical services manager, sent to the Campus Safety listserv at 4:33 p.m., well after the incident had been resolved.

One wonders why the one resource available to administrators - a campus-wide mass e-mail - was not utilized earlier to alert students, staff and faculty to the situation, a resource which could kill two birds with one stone by dispelling rumors about the incident simultaneously.

In the end, regardless of the endless reasons UCLA officials can provide in order to explain the response - or lack thereof - there is really no excuse.

The bottom line is that there was a potentially dangerous situation very near UCLA, in the heart of the off-campus student community, and both UCLA and UCPD did nothing to proactively alert campus community members.

This needs to change immediately. It is understandable that a stronger plan for emergency response is in the works, but basic responses, such as campus-wide notification, need to be in place now.

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Original Source:<a href=http://www.dailybruin.ucla.edu/news/2007/may/18/editorial-ucla-needs-emergency-notification-system/>
The Daily Bruin - May 18, 2007</a>

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Editorial

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The Daily Bruin

Date

2007-07-13

Contributor

Sara Hood

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Saba Riazati <editor@media.ucla.edu>

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eng

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Editorial , "Editorial: UCLA needs emergency notification system now," in The April 16 Archive, Item #714, http://www.april16archive.org/items/show/714 (accessed August 29, 2014).