The lockdown on Feb. 15 was issued to keep students safe inside school buildings, but some were stuck outside waiting for it to end.
A drive-by shooting near campus caused officials to issue the lockdown when a witness reported that the suspect drove onto campus.
Kaleb Ogle, business senior, received the Blue Alert while driving to class. When he arrived at Meinders School of Business, one of his friends was waiting outside by his car, already locked out of the building.
“We sat by our trucks for a bit and watched students walk up to the doors then walk away,” Ogle said. “We ended up sitting on the bench by the globe outside Meinders to wait it out, not realizing it would be a 40-minute ordeal.”
While they waited, two other students joined them on the bench, he said.
“Finally a cop came up to us and said ‘y’all oughta just go back to your vehicles,’ so we walked back to our cars,” Ogle said. “I decided to leave and, 30 seconds later, got the message saying it was all clear, so I went back and ended up going into my class.”
Students stuck outside during a lockdown should find somewhere to lock themselves in or get into their cars, said Bradd Brown, chief of police.
“It’s really hard to predict everybody’s situation,” he said. “What we want to do is provide the most information we can by Blue Alert to give people the knowledge of what’s going on so they can make decisions for themselves.”
Campus police assisted students who were stuck outside in some cases.
“We actually helped a few students get into a building,” Brown said. “Our officers were present, of course, and they unlocked the doors to get them inside.”
Campus police are always looking for ways to improve, so they met with the university’s risk manager, Lee Brown, to review feedback and discuss the situation, Bradd Brown said.
Lee Brown said campus police did a phenomenal job with the lockdown and providing information but identified some areas to improve on.
“We received reports of some faculty not having full understanding of their role and responsibility as it relates to a lockdown or a shelter in place,” he said. “We also want to educate students on what to do if they’re outside during an event like this.”
Students should take a certain level of responsibility in emergency situations and do what’s best for them in the moment, Lee Brown said. He said that, if stuck outside, students should seek shelter elsewhere like a dorm or go to their cars and drive away.
He also said every campus computer should have a desktop alert system that takes over the screen and announces a Blue Alert. If faculty or staff are not receiving those, they need to contact Campus Tech as soon as possible.
Officials at the meeting also discussed ways to distinguish between a shelter-in-place situation and a lockdown. Shelter-in-place alerts are issued when students need to be away from an outside hazard, typically weather-related. A lockdown is issued when there’s a hostile or dangerous intruder on campus and doors need to be locked.
Campus police sent an email Feb. 20 detailing emergency procedures and how to act in each situation.
“We need to engage a little bit more and train a little bit harder. We need to put safety a little bit more on the forefront of people’s minds,” Lee Brown said. “We don’t want to create an environment of constant worry, fear and always looking over your shoulder, but we also want people to maintain a certain level of vigilance.”
Overall, Bradd Brown said he thought the lockdown was handled smoothly.
“For the most part, it went pretty well,” he said. “People were able to get inside and get locked down.”