|University of Memphis Establishes Safety Advisory Groups
For release: October 2, 2007
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The University of Memphis announced today the formation of two 10-person safety advisory groups to meet with the University’s director of Police Services routinely to discuss campus security. One group will be composed of students, the other of faculty and staff members. The announcement was among several points made by Police Services Director Bruce Harber at a campus-wide meeting held at the University in the wake of the Sept. 30th slaying of student and football player Taylor Bradford.
Harber, a 31-year veteran police officer, did not mention a break in the case or any new developments, but he did say his detectives and those from the Memphis Police Department are reviewing images from University security cameras for leads in the late-night shooting. He said a detective from the U of M Police Services has been specially assigned to the case to work with the MPD and that University police will have a greater presence at the Carpenter Complex residences, where the shooting is believed to have taken place, as well as at all University housing for an indefinite period of time.
Addressing concerns that a text message sent by the University around 3 a.m. Monday may not have arrived at some phones until hours later, Harber said the University is studying that situation and will work with mobile phone carriers and the vendor whose software is used to issue the emergency text messages so that those messages are recognized and accepted by all carriers and can be received in a timely manner.
Last weekend’s use of the text messaging system was the first time the new system had ever been used by the 20,330-student University.
Harber stressed that no one method can be or should be relied on by itself, which is why the University uses multiple communication media to reach its constituents in case of emergency – text messaging, email, and the Web, as well as more traditional means such as phone “trees,” broadcast news media, even flyers posted on campus.
He added that over the past 24 hours, the number of people signing up for the University’s text messaging system rose by almost 1,400, to a new total of more than 6,000. The system has been in place since the late summer, and the University community has been informed of the system and encouraged to sign up for it by means of e-mail messages, campus newspaper advertisements, flyers in the University bookstore, and other means.
Harber said the University has also moved to the quicker use of “formal” emergency alerts, such as were issued Monday morning, and is about to begin using more “informal” alerts, that give a minimal amount of important information, to be followed with a more detailed alert when more information becomes available. He said that will allow the University to warn students, faculty, and staff more quickly and immediately, when safety is the key issue rather than a complete account.
Another matter Harber noted was the need for students to serve as “eyes and ears” for the University’s 30-person police force. “No matter how good the officers may be,” he said, “they cannot do it all. The addition of another 20,000-plus people observing things on campus tremendously expands the police force’s capability and the amount of information we have to work with.”
He also said that over the past few months the University has installed six more free-standing emergency phones around campus, for a total of 29. A person using one of the phones is connected directly and immediately to the University police dispatcher as soon as the phone’s handset is lifted.
Later today, the University will post the questions that the audience asked Harber in the safety forum and the answers that he provided. That post will give additional information about the University’s attention to safety on campus.
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