By: Meredith Francis ~Campus News Editor~
Students are once again raising concerns about public safety notifications after an incident involving gunfire occurred close to Xavier’s campus.
On Saturday, Feb. 8 at 6:40 p.m., Cincinnati Police and Norwood Police informed Xavier Police of gunshots fired at a vehicle on Dana Avenue between Woodburn Avenue and Montgomery Road. Suspects in a second vehicle identified as a black Nissan Maxima with tinted windows fled the area.
“It was determined that after the shooting, the car fled the area. So, we didn’t deem it to be an imminent or ongoing threat. But we did decide that given it was so close to campus and some students may have heard the gunfire, that there was a need to issue some kind of alert to let people know what was going on,” Jeff Coleman, associate vice president of audit and risk management, said.
Last year, Xavier Police and the Office of Audit and Risk Management worked with the Student Government Association to create an alert system for “Level 2” and “Level 3” alerts. This was in response to some student complaints that students were unaware of dangerous crimes occurring close to campus.
According to Xavier Safety’s website, a Level 1 incident alert is issued when there is an “imminent and ongoing threat” to Xavier’s campus. It is this kind of incident that prompts the university to send XU Alert Me notifications via text messages, emails and phone calls.
Under current safety operations, a Level 2 incident alert is issued when a violent crime is committed on campus or within a one to two block radius of campus.
In order to receive these alerts via email, students have to actively sign up through the Xavier Safety website by joining the Xavier Public Safety notice group.
The website says that text message alerts are not available for Level 2 incidents. According to Coleman, only 350 students are signed up to receive Level 2 email alerts right now.
“Our concern is that some students either forget to sign up or just don’t take the time to do it. Then all of the sudden something happens, and (students) are questioning why they didn’t know,” Coleman said.
There are also Level 3 incidents, which are issued as a result of crime trends, like a pattern of theft. This level results in a public safety notice through the Xavier Safety website and on the @Xavier_Safety Twitter page.
“One thing we’re considering doing right away for all students who live on campus is signing them all up for Level 2 alerts and if they don’t want them, they can opt out of them,” Coleman said.
Under this planned system, all students who live on campus would receive alerts for Level 2 incidents.
This way, students who want the alerts will get them and those who do not will have to opt out of the alerts.
“Starting next year, we’re hoping to make (Level 1) ‘opt out’ as well, so everyone will be automatically signed up for it. Right now, everyone gets an email whether you sign up or not. But you don’t get the texts and phone calls unless you sign up. So starting next year our hopes are to make all of it ‘opt out’ instead of ‘opt in,’” Coleman said.
Xavier Police Chief Michael Couch advises students to think of personal safety if they witness a crime on or near campus.
“We know in today’s environment, random acts of violence can occur anywhere at any time at any place,” Couch said. “Be the best witness you can be but don’t put yourself at additional risk or in harm’s way.”
To sign up for Level 2 incident emails, visit http://www.xavier.edu/audit-risk/Sign-Up.cfm.