The University of Florida is prepared to protect students and staff if an active shooter is ever on the campus, according to campus police.
Capt. Jeff Holcomb of the University of Florida Police Department said specially trained Critical Incident Response Team officers are always available on campus.
“Virginia Tech lasted nine minutes. Northern Illinois was shorter than that,” Holcomb said. “The SWAT response to an active shooter is not the answer. Our CIRT officers, they’re actually assigned to each of our squads, meaning 24 hours a day at least one of these officers, trained and armed in this type with this type of equipment, is available to respond as a primary officer.”
Anyone can alert the police of an emergency by dialing 911, but UFPD provides a shortcut to the dispatcher with the blue emergency lights located around campus. If students feel unsafe, day or night, they can push the emergency button on the light and be immediately connected to a dispatcher.
There are also emergency alert phones in classrooms and a public address system in popular outdoor areas, like the Reitz Union North Lawn.
During a crisis, students are notified by text and email alerts sent by University Emergency Management, University Relations and UFPD. Prior to 2008, UF relied mostly on email to communicate states of emergency.
“Following the events of Virginia Tech and other places, the university began to emphasize this area with a focus on safety for students, faculty and staff,” said Kenneth Allen, UF’s emergency management coordinator.
The university developed the text messaging system first, then sped up the delivery of emails and began to post emergency messages on the UF homepage, Allen said.
A 2012 UF alert survey found about half of the students polled thought the alerts were appropriate and timely.
Emily Stanton edited this story online.