UK alerts lost in translation


UK Police officers stand with security guards at the entrance to Parking Structure #3 on Huguelet Drive near the Kentucky Clinic in 2016.

By the editorial board

After recent shootings at locations near campus like Cookout, Red Mile Road and Trust Lounge, and robberies near the Euclid Kroger and various gas stations, UK students and parents are asking: where are the UK Alerts? 

Multiple incidents have happened in a matter of months that raised eyebrows about UK’s commitment to safety. After not receiving an alert about the killing of 15-year-old Trinity Gay at Cookout, a popular late night hangout spot for college students surrounded by student housing, many want UK to take more action.  

Currently, 57,834 people receive UK Alert emails, 34,163 receive mobile alerts and 31,346 people receive voice alerts. The alerts are sent for crimes, bad weather, class cancellations, tornado warnings, gas leaks, tests, power outages and more. All UK Alerts immediately post to UK’s Twitter account as well.

For as much flack as UK has gotten for not sending UK Alerts, it makes one wonder why they haven’t acted.

UK spokesman Jay Blanton said that strings of UK Alerts would not be effective and students would simply ignore them. He said UK police determine when alerts and crime bulletins are issued. 

For 2016, the university has only sent 21 alerts. UK sent 31 alerts in 2015 and 29 alerts in 2014.

With crime bulletins, students would be aware of more crimes, such as the attempted sexual assault in August and will learn important safety information on how to handle themselves accordingly.

If students get facts from credible sources rather than social media scares, like the one after the sexual assault was reported by local media, would most likely cease. 

UK is not looking into changing the UK alert system, Blanton said. 

Only a percentage of students can live on campus. Many UK students go to off campus locations. Most students live off campus, and they shouldn’t have to find out about a shooting that took place across the street from sensationalized social media posts. 

Instead of justifying the existing system, which seems almost non-existent, UK needs to create a system that actually covers areas students frequent around campus. 

Yes, they want campus to seem like a safe place, but what is unsafe is not warning all students about situations that could affect them. It’s time to make the UK Alerts system about students, not location. 

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