Purdue releases new security report after campus shooting

Published: .
Updated: .
Purdue University is making changes to security and emergency notifications after January's deadly shooting on campus.

The report comes three months after a January shooting and stabbing that killed 21-year-old graduate assistant Andrew Boldt inside a classroom.

Three months later, the campus is a much calmer, more peaceful place. The main message from Pres. Mitch Daniels is that Purdue University is an extraordinarily safe place to live, but there is always room for improvement.

"Many of the things they're talking about - the progress in social media and the new tools, for instance, on the one hand, you can look back a few years ago and say we had no means to communicate with 50,000 people Now the question is how can we do it better with less confusion and more precision," said Daniels.

Some areas of concern and opportunity include creating text message alerts that automatically include all students and not just those who choose to opt in; a better way to secure classroom and laboratory doors from the inside; and making sure faculty and staff know what to do and when to help protect students.

But there are things the university fixed right away. That's a Twitter feed, @purdueemergency, created right after the shooting. It lets people know in real time, what's going on during an emergency on campus.

"The new Twitter feed is wonderful because as you know, people in the media cannot get text alerts. But you can get Twitter feeds. So this will be a good way to deal with parents," said Patti Hart, panel chair.

In the end, it's about utilizing the best technology and tools out there from the Purdue app with all of the safety procedures at your fingertips to something as simple as the emergency call box. In the coming months, more panels will convene to prioritize and implement the best practices for protecting the entire Purdue community.

Purdue junior Garrett Burnichon was boarding a bus, when gunfire erupted on campus.

His friend was in the lab where Boldt died.

"I saw at least ten cop cars racing down the street and that's when I saw the text message from Purdue police telling us what happened," Burnichon said.

That text alert was key to safety, according to a final security review by the university. The review examined feedback received in the days and weeks following the January tragedy.

There are new recommendations about how emergency text alerts work at Purdue. The panel recommends people should be able to "opt out," not "opt in," to get the alerts, so more students will be signed up to receive them.

Grad student Chris Potter didn't get one on the day of the deadly shooting.

"I didn't. That was when I found out that there was a text alert system. So I've signed up for it now," Potter said.

Another recommendation - make sure professors know when to stop teaching if there's an emergency. Many didn't that day, including Potter.

"Some of the teaching team came in and said there was a shelter in place warning and just keep teaching," Potter explained, "and then later they came in again and said there was a lockdown and we needed to turn off the lights and hide our students."

A lot of feedback in the new report deals with doors on campus. The university is considering whether to make its 41,000 classroom doors lockable from the inside to keep intruders out.

Student Alix Crandell says that was a definite safety issue January 21. Doors in her computer lab couldn't be locked.

"We were in the computer lab and it didn’t lock from the inside," Crandell said. "So we were hiding behind walls in the computer lab because we didn’t have a safe place to go to. There was a meeting within the engineering department later about how to make it more safe and the main concern was locking the lab."

Students also expressed concern about WiFi and cell reception, especially in basement classrooms, where it can be tough to call for help. The security panel wants that reviewed too.

Still, Purdue University leaders say none of the suggestions they received for this report could have stopped the shooter that January day from targeting and killing one of their own.

Read the report