Police expand emergency alert system

Less than three months after implementing the e2Campus alert system, the Florida A&M University Police Department is making strides to expand the system.

A new program, the Federal Warning System, will work in conjunction with the current e2Campus system that alerts students of impending danger via communication devices such as mobile phones, personal digital assistants and e-mail, according to e2Campus’s Web site.

FWS enhances the e2Campus approach by making sure students are immediately aware of danger.

“It’s a horn system,” said James Lockley, assistant police chief at FAMU PD. “When you hear it, you will know to check your (e2Campus message).”

Crime Prevention Officer Sherri Luke explained that the horn students will hear in emergency situations will be atop a pole behind FAMU’s Benjamin L. Perry Building. The horn will ring loud enough to be heard throughout campus and neighboring communities.

Lockley said FAMU PD is still trying to finish construction, but he said he hopes to have the system installed by the end of the week so the department can begin the program during the last week of classes. This program, he explained, is unique because it will not only affect students on campus, it will also affect those living in close proximity to the school.

“We’re sending out fliers to everyone,” he said. “The principal purpose is for our students, but the community will be enhanced also.”

Luke, who said she has high hopes for the program’s future, said she is excited about the FWS and e2Campus system.

“I love this new siren system,” she said. “I’m hoping it will increase crime prevention awareness and that students can see FAMU is putting tools in place to increase campus safety.”

By appealing to other senses, Luke said she feels the new method will allow the e2Campus system to reach the students who are either not signed up or otherwise unable to have access to the e2Campus alerts.

“If you were sight impaired, how would you get the (e2Campus) message?” she asked. “With this, we can let people know quickly.”

The new system was made available through a grant, which was financed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, from the Florida Department of Education.

“I believe that we are one of the few schools to receive the grant, and it really will be a tremendous help in being more effective when we need to reach out to people quickly,” said LaNedra Carroll, spokeswoman for the university. “We can better inform and better protect our students and the rest of the university community in an emergency situation.”

Luke said she feels that the grant was issued by DHS because of the perils of today’s society. “Post 9/11, people want instant access. And they want increased security,” she said.

Lockley said he thinks the program will improve safety on campus.

“We are constantly looking at things that can better enhance the safety of our students and our campus,” he said.

Bruce Hardaway, 19, a sophomore engineering student from Miami, welcomed the program.

“Any program that is trying to improve the safety of our students and community and lessen the amount of crime is a necessity,” he said.

Hardaway said the loud sound might be disturbing to some people, but since the siren is for a good cause, the disturbance can be tolerated.

“It may create a bit of a disruption, but would you rather get disturbed for a little bit or be notified of what’s going on?” Hardaway said.

Carroll said the new system will take FAMU communication to the next level.

“In the past, we have had various ways to reach out to the community, but this system is a new, more sophisticated way to reach them quickly.”