Public Safety Advisory - Dec. 16, 2015
To: University Community (via Web post)
From: Cory Nomura, Vice President, Finance & Administration
Jeff Talbott, Chief of Public Safety
Date: December 16, 2015
Subject: Security Actions and Communications on Dec. 2, 2015
We received a number of questions from students, parents, and employees during and after the December 2nd shootings in San Bernardino and the related police activity in Redlands. We have reviewed our security actions and communications, revisited our critical incident protocols, and debriefed with various University groups. Following is a list of frequently asked questions, along with answers, facts, and comments, that we hope will help clarify what was happening that day and when, how, why, and through which methods the University responded to the situation.
When did University officials first know about the active shooting situation, and what did you do?
The shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino started at 10:59 a.m. Various University of Redlands offices and the media were reporting a breaking situation at 11:30 a.m., and by 11:45 a.m. we all were aware that this was a major mass shooting incident. By this time we had contacted our University liaison at the Redlands Police Department (RPD), who was then en route to the shooting site. We had begun monitoring RPD broadcasts for real-time information from the site. A core incident team had convened in the Administration Building to share information received from law enforcement, watch live media coverage, review University options, and coordinate University actions and communications. The core incident team stayed on this task until around midnight.
At 12:11 p.m, Dean of Students Burgess informed approximately 140 Student Life personnel that the University was aware and monitoring the situation.
At 12:30 p.m. all available Public Safety personnel were summoned. With increased staffing, Public Safety patrols and visibility were increased, Public Safety officers were deployed based on a previously-developed action plan for monitoring and assessing the campus’s safety, and an additional dispatcher was added to aid communications. Also, a second shuttle driver was brought to campus to reduce wait times for students trying to move about campus, and both shuttle drivers were advised not to take students west of campus.
At 12:33 p.m. we issued the first of four “Safety Advisory” University Announcements to the entire Community via direct email (to approximately 5,100 students and 900 employees), Web posting, and the official University Facebook page.
What else did you communicate to our campuses and others, and when?
At 1:15 p.m., our RPD liaison reported no threat to any University campus. About this time, we contacted Redlands Unified School District office which reported that no school, with the exception of one elementary school located in San Bernardino, was in official lockdown status, although we later learned that some personnel at some schools had made independent decisions to impose partial or “soft” lockdowns.
From 1:33 p.m. to 11:24 p.m., numerous additional individual emails, Web site and Facebook postings, and/or Bulldog Alerts were distributed to the extended University community and to certain subsets within it. These additional communications to groups included memos to parents, a memo from Dean Burgess to College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) students at 2:06 p.m., and a memo just for Schools of Business and Education students, as well as University employees, at 2:52 p.m.
My family was watching the news. What did you do to inform them of University actions?
At 1:33 p.m., 4:51 p.m., and 6:53 p.m., we sent emails directly to all parents of CAS students whose addresses are on file. Parents who registered their phone numbers in the University’s Bulldog Alert Emergency Notification System also received these alerts at 6:26 p.m. and 11:24 p.m. Parents who called or emailed the University throughout the day were informed, as best we could around our work monitoring, assessing, and communicating the situation, using a set of facts and status points that we had distributed beginning at 1:07 p.m. to front-line phone personnel and others.
Why did you send the Bulldog Alert when you did, and why did you say so little in that message?
The Bulldog Alert System is for use in breaking, extremely urgent, life-threatening emergency situations, and its messages are restricted by the vendor to just 140 characters. It is designed to issue very brief “shots fired, shelter in place”-type instructions and “all clear” notifications. We sent the first Alert when, out of an abundance of caution and to reassure commuting students that they need not drive into the area, the decision was made to cancel evening classes and to recommend our Redlands campus community stay indoors. At this time, all freeways and major roads remained open as they had throughout the day. The related police activity in west Redlands that had begun in the late afternoon was not assessed by the RPD to be a threat to the Redlands campus or any other UR campus. For reference, Cal State University San Bernardino closed at 6:00 p.m.
I don’t agree with RPD’s assessment or with your actions.
We recognize that there can be, and are, differing views on every set of circumstances and decisions. Various University offices received emails or calls of concern about our decision making and communications, and there were also positive responses from parents and others to our communications and actions confirming awareness and constant monitoring of the situation.
In the wake of this incident, we have reviewed our information, actions, communications, and incident response protocols. Decisions were made on campus based on the real-time and rapidly developing information received from the law enforcement administrators physically present at both crime scenes (San Bernardino and west Redlands). Their information was consistent with news reports, but more detailed, accurate, and timely. It is important to note that our constant liaison with law enforcement sources also helped the University avoid responding inappropriately to the many unfounded rumors of the day. The situation changed throughout the day; however, at no time did local law enforcement see a need for a physical (“hard”) lockdown of campus, which would prevent everyone, including ourselves, from entering or exiting any lockable room or building. Public Safety and senior administration concurred with this assessment. We implemented a “soft” lockdown of the Redlands campus, in which evening classes were cancelled and the community was advised to stay indoors.
I don’t understand the protocols and I don’t know what to do in an emergency.
We encourage the University community to become familiar with our emergency preparedness and response structure and protocols. Please visit the Emergency Preparedness
Web pages. We are also happy to walk through these structures and protocols with student and employee groups; please contact Jeff Talbott (firstname.lastname@example.org
) or Brett Telford (email@example.com
) to arrange for this specific training, and watch for announcements about large-group presentations we will schedule on campus next semester.
Will you be doing anything different since you have reviewed this event?
Some changes were already in the works that will improve awareness and communication during critical incidents. We are moving toward mandatory registration in the Bulldog Alert Emergency Notification System for all students, faculty, and staff with a University-issued email account. In addition, once the new University Web site is launched early next year, it will be easier and faster to post to the homepage more frequently – and to find – the incident or emergency instructions and updates to which Bulldog Alerts point us.
Additional changes or adjustments to our incident response systems will be communicated as they are determined. Each incident is unique and is evaluated individually.
Our top priorities are the safety and security of our University community, informed and professional decision making, and the timely delivery of accurate, helpful information. This memorandum touches at a high level on what occurred on Dec. 2, 2015, but there were many additional details, conversations, decisions, and information delivery points throughout that day and night. We hope that this information is helpful and invite any lingering questions, concerns, or requests for information to be sent to the Office of the Vice President for Finance & Administration and/or Office of Public Safety: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.