Florida Atlantic University alert system receives praise and criticism

Alerts tells students, faculty of danger on campus

BOCA RATON, Fla. - As police continue to search for the gunman who robbed a student on FAU's campus last Thursday, they're reviewing how the university alert system worked.

It gets the word out through email, text and social media in emergency situations.

Students and faculty learned about an armed robbery last Thursday when the campus went into lockdown. Some say it was over-communicated.

"I got a text, then a phone call, then my house phone rang. Everyone in my family was receiving messages," says Angela Fontenot, a student.

It took about 20 minutes for the alert to go out. Some students feel it should've happened faster.

"I thought it was efficient, but then again it took 20-30 minutes to notify us," says David Duque, a music student.

"It should've happened right away, as soon as police got there. A lot of people were still wandering around and didn't know until after half an hour," says Michelle Aranguren.

Campus police chief Charles Lowe says the police department will take a closer look at how well the alert worked, but at first glance he's pleased with the communication.

He acknowledges it takes time to get the word out to 32,000 people.

"There are a couple things that would slow it down, obviously the more users, the more time it takes to push the data," says Chief Lowe.

Some students wanted more updates in the three-hour span between the alert and when the lockdown was lifted. But the chief says updates only come where there is information the public needs to know.

"In between we didn't have anything to report. We were searching parking lots and it doesn't make sense to tell people where we are in that process because we might tell someone we don't want to know," says Chief Lowe.

Right around 1 p.m. Thursday a Freshman student was robbed at gunpoint on the third floor of the Arts and Letters building. A description of the suspect was released, but no arrest has been made in the case.

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