After facing criticism from students for not sending out a University-wide text alert after reports of a stabbing near campus, UTPD Chief David Carter clarified UTPD’s emergency notification protocols Tuesday morning.
Carter said emergency text notifications are only sent out when UTPD believes the community needs to take action because of a credible and imminent threat within the area of UT’s main campus.
“If it doesn’t rise to that level, we still are going to put out information, but we’re going to put it on social media,” Carter said. “Our hope is that the information gets out to those who have an interest or concern about it.”
Carter said if an incident happens on campus but does not meet the criteria for a text message, UTPD alerts students through an email. For off-campus incidents that do not meet the protocol for a text message, Carter said UTPD only alerts students through social media. Emails are not sent for off-campus incidents.
“I think that they did exactly the right thing and used the right protocols in place,” Carter said.
Student body president Colton Becker said despite believing that Chief Carter has made significant strides in making campus safer, he is frustrated with they way UTPD communicated to students.
“My frustration lies with the fact that they’re using language like stabbing and expecting students to remain at ease and calm with the lack of information,” Becker said. “Their approach should be making sure all students are aware as soon as possible and that they aren’t just being expected to check social media for updates.”
Carter said the incident at the intersection of Whitis Avenue and W 27th St. Monday night was a fight among three people, where one person reportedly cut the arm of another person. Carter said the suspect in the incident was immediately detained and charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct.
“Quite honestly, it was not a stabbing,” Carter said. “It’s something that we want people to know about, and so that’s why we put it out on social media. But it wasn’t a call to action by any means.”
Journalism freshman Catherine Mouer, who lives in Kinsolving Residence Hall, said after UTPD tweeted about a stabbing near her dorm and a suspect at large, she was worried for her safety and the safety of her friends.
“I feel as though UTPD failed students on this occasion,” Mouer said. “Many students don’t use Twitter, follow UTPD or have notifications on for UTPD. It is vital to me that UTPD communicates with students clearly as situations occur.”
Corporate communication freshman Amber Salazar, who lives in Duren Residence Hall, said UTPD should have expressed the importance of avoiding the area.
“The cluelessness and fear I felt for that period of time was terrible,” Salazar said. “It was scary that I was hanging out outside without any warning from UTPD. It felt disrespectful and felt as though my safety was at risk.”