WMU introduces new alert system for off-campus threats

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Western Michigan University is rolling out new safety tools as the one year anniversary of the Kalamazoo area shooting rampage nears.

Six people were killed and two others seriously wounded by gunfire during the Feb. 20 attack. The shootings happened within a few miles of campus, but WMU never sent an active shooter alert because it didn’t happen on campus.

WMU President John M. Dunn apologized days later and eventually created WMU’s safety communications committee to improve procedures.

That committee is unveiling the following tools to better protect and inform students of threats:

  • New commercial software called Social Sentinel, which continually scans social media and alerts WMU officers to off-campus issues that could affect the WMU community.
  • A safety information website including links to campus safety alerts, which will be added to WMU’s mobile app during the next software update.
  • The @wmupublicsafety Twitter account to send out advisory messages about sexual assaults, incidents involving guns, armed robberies, suspicious deaths, home invasions and natural disasters in the “vicinity of the campus community.” The community can also obtain the tweeted advisories via text message.

“While those six categories may provide a guide, many times such information will not be available for dissemination until it is too late to constitute an effective warning,” cautioned retired Kalamazoo sheriff and committee chair Thomas Edmonds in a post on WMU’s website.

The current WMUAlert system will continue to be used exclusively for on-campus incidents, according to WMU.

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