Alert system’s notifications too little, too late

Kernel Editorial Board

In an emergency, time is the most important factor. A matter of seconds can be the difference between a positive result and a situation ending poorly, and when hours pass by, results will not end up positively.

Late Friday night, one of those emergency situations occurred and valuable time was lost between the incident and notifying the public.

According to a March 8 Kernel article, UK Police received a report of an armed robbery around 9:22 p.m. behind Cooperstown Apartments on UK’s campus. Two men brandishing pistols demanded the personal belongings of two students. After the victims handed over money and cell phones, the suspects fled toward Euclid Avenue. The suspects are still on the loose.

A UK Alert was sent around 10:20 p.m. Despite the alert guiding people to visit to for more information, nothing was available on the Web site until after 11:40 p.m. Between the hour separating the original alert and the university Web site being updated, UK Police was flooded with calls, Monroe said. He was unable to estimate how many calls the agency received.

It cannot be stressed enough how important safety should be on a college campus. Too often in the past, safety has not received the high-priority attention it deserves. Recently, UK has made a visible effort to make campus a safer place, ranging from hiring Joe Monroe as the permanent police chief, to working to institute safety plans to individual campus buildings and even UK Alert.

This has all streamlined the process to help inform campus and make it a safer place.

UK spokeswoman Kathy Johnson said UK Alerts only need very basic of information, which the initial alert contained, whereas details such as location and descriptions of the suspects are needed to put something on the university’s Web site. As for Friday’s instance, the UK Alert was sent out before all the information was given to public relations officials to put on the Web site, causing the lapse between the initial report and the information being put on the Web site.

UK’s alert system is a great idea, and getting the facts straight definitely is the goal, but if the lines of communication are so crossed when things happen the way they did Friday, the process needs work.

At this point in the game, UK Alert needs to be more than a good idea or a service that tells you information you already know. Even more importantly, it shouldn’t refer campus to a Web site that lacks information.

In the 24/7 instant information age we live in, such notifications and information transfers have to be seamless, especially within an organization like UK. The last thing criminals need is more time to flee the scene.