The University of North Florida, alongside Public Safety Consultants LLC, have released a report after the campus alert systems at UNF failed last month during a false report of an armed individual on campus.

The University Police Department sent out the first alert message about the situation at on Feb. 12 and while some received the message within one minute, many students, faculty and staff never did. 

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President David Szymanski specifically mandated the complete review of the University response to the incident in order to determine what worked well and to identify any areas for improvement. Now, those findings are public.

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According to the report, the emergency alert message sent at 6:11 p.m. by UNF Police Department was mistakenly sent only to email recipients and not via text.

At 6:30 p.m., while en route to campus, UNF Vice President Ashton became aware that not all of her staff had received the initial notification message sent. After conferring with Chief Mackesy, who was also en route to the campus, VP Ashton instructed her staff to send the notification message in all ways UNF communicates. 

At 6:57 p.m. UNF Public Information successfully transmitted email, text and voice notification messages via Blackboard Connect which read:

“UPD is responding to a possible armed individual in arena garage building 38. Leave the area if safe to do so. Find a safe area and shelter in place. Officers have blocked building 38 until further notice."

The report found several opportunities for improvement and made several suggestions.

Recommendations:

  • The report noted that there was an understaffed communications center at UNF and the turnover rate is too high. The report states that having a single dispatcher on a shift in the communications center is a practice that should not be continued. 
  • There is need for communications officers to have quick and easily accessed procedures to follow during incidents they infrequently handle.
  • During the incident, the report states that calls were received at UNF PD Communications from faculty seeking information on what procedures they should be following. They suggest that the “Active-Shooter” training should be required of all UNF employees and faculty.
  • Review the use of Blackboard Connect in the UNF Police Communications Center versus a system designed for rapid and error-free public safety alerting 

You can read the full report here