Changes are coming to the way the University of North Florida alerts students about potential threats on campus.
The school plans to implement recommendations by an emergency management consultant following an incident last month involving a possible shooter on campus.
The incident on Feb. 11 turned out to be someone submitting a false report that a man with a rifle was in the parking garage near UNF Arena, but the report points out there are still several lessons to be learned from the situation even though there weren't any serious consequences.
"It's important to me to understand how we can improve our response to both real and potential threats and how we can better communicate emergency information to the campus," says President David Szymanski in a statement.
The report says the school needs to increase staffing in the communications center by providing a minimum of two people on duty at all times. It also encourages the school to reduce the turnover rate in the center by increasing salaries for employees.
According to the report, salaries in the communications center are lower than similar jobs in the area. The UNF Police Department is authorized to train and certify the communications officers, but right now it's serving as a training academy where people are getting a few months of experience and moving on to more lucrative positions elsewhere.
The report also addresses the protocol for alerting students and faculty of potential threats on campus.
When the possible shooter was reported in February, the communications staff elected to send out an alert by email only. The communications officer chose "select all" thinking it would transmit the message through all ways possible, according to the report, but that selection was simply picking all recipients and not the methods of communication.
Many people failed to receive the alert and found out about the situation through other means of social media or through local news outlets, according to the report. The consultant suggests providing both laminated and electronic guide cards for the communications staff so they can quickly go down a checklist of procedures in the event of an emergency.
The report also says all employees, including faculty, should be required to take active shooter training courses.
The school will also need to have pre-planned messages covering possible needs for high profile and critical incidents, according to the report.
The report was released Wednesday and is publicly posted on unf.edu.
“Safety is a top priority at UNF, and we're committed to ensuring the continued well-being of our students, faculty, staff and campus visitors,” Szymanski says.