MUPD explains MU Alert’s protocol

A communications operator and an alert supervisor are at the MUPD office 24/7 to take in, evaluate and respond to threats when necessary.
An MUPD car sits in the parking lot on Feb 2. MU Alert released a statement about shots being fired on campus at 11:58pm on March 20, which were reported 15 minutes later to be fireworks.

An MU Alert message reporting gunfire near campus Sunday night was sent to students, faculty and staff. The alert was later clarified as firework blasts.

Maj. Scott Richardson, MU Police Department spokesperson, said MUPD received three different calls around 11:50 p.m. about possible shots fired and no indication of seeing fireworks. The tips went through the communications operator, and an alert was approved by a supervisor and sent out at 11:58 p.m.

After the text alert was sent, the office received a call confirming a fireworks sighting. MU Alert received some criticism for their approach.

This is the third MU Alert of the semester relating to gunfire.

Here’s an overview of how the MU Alert system receives information, processes it, and decides to alert students, faculty and staff:

  • MUPD takes in calls and online threat tips.
  • A communications operator, on hand 24/7, compiles incoming information.
  • A supervisor assesses information and instructs the operator to send out one of 10 to 12 alert templates through an appropriate communication tool. These include phone calls, text messages and campus computer desktop notifications. According to the MU Alert website, messages are not sent when an immediate danger is isolated to one location. MU generally restricts campus-wide alerts to a threat impacting the entire campus or the location of the threat can not be pinpointed.

According to the MU Alert website, its goal is to reach students and staff quickly, while being selective in order to avoid over-notification or spreading partial information.

“Our overall (vision for campus safety) is to support a safe learning environment for students, and provide information about threats on and near campus,” Richardson said.

Edited by Bri Considine |

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