Chat with the Chief: Torch alert

Precious seconds count when an armed killer is in the area and it’s up to emergency alert services to notify those in proximity to the danger on a college campus.

A man drove his car into a crowd of students at Ohio State University (OSU) Monday, Nov. 28, then exited the vehicle and began attacking students with a knife. Officers quickly responded and dispatched the attacker, but rumors swirled over an active shooter and a second suspect throughout the morning and afternoon.

In the wake of reports of the active shooter on campus, the OSU Emergency Management text alert read: “Buckeye Alert: Active Shooter on campus. Run. Hide. Fight. Watts Hall. 19th and College.”

The tone was urgent. It was prompt. It was descriptive while remaining concise. The emergency alert did what it was intended to do.

Meanwhile and closer to home, there were reports of gunshots heard at Hillcrest Oakwood Properties approximately one mile from Ferris State’s campus last week. The Mecosta County Sheriff’s Department fielded the reports in the early morning hours of Sunday, Nov. 20.

Students were notified via Ferris’ emergency alert system at approximately 2:20 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21, nearly 36 hours after the initial report.

The latest Ferris emergency alert regarding gunshots read, “FSU BR Campus Timely Warning – 11/19/16 incident off campus at Oakwood Apartments. Mecosta Cty Sheriff’s Dept. incident, refer to for details.”

We were told the location and to refer to Ferris’ website to read up on a vague “incident” at Oakwood Apartments that had transpired the previous morning. This is unsafe and entirely unacceptable. Ferris’ emergency alert system failed Ferris students.

How many lives were saved at OSU because of the prompt emergency text alert? Would Ferris students receive the same timely and descriptive notice of an active shooter on campus? We’d like to think so but recent evidence points to the contrary.