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The Weber State University Police Department is in the beginning phase of its campaign to raise awareness of Code Purple and especially the differences between messages that say “lockdown” versus “shelter in place.”
Many students and staff aren’t aware of the two different types of messages and what they mean.
“We learned in the windstorm that when we sent out a message of ‘shelter in place’ and followed it up with ‘stay inside,’ but we had hundreds of complaints,” said Chief Dane LeBlanc. “No one knew what that meant.”
Code Purple is an emergency notification system that provides WSU with the ability to communicate quickly via text, voice or email about campus-related health, safety and emergency information regardless of recipients’ locations.
“As soon as we know there is a confirmed threat or emergency, we are going to let people know via Code Purple,” said emergency manager Mike Davies. “We’re going to let people know where the threat is, and we will give them as much instruction as we can give them, given what we know, to keep them safe.”
WSU police are consistently working to advance their skills. Officers go through various training sessions, such as the tactical training they participated in during the 2013 summer semester.
Davies said he could not disclose any of the police force’s tactical procedures, but that he wants WSU community members to know they are prepared to immediately respond to a multitude of different scenarios, from earthquakes and fires to an active shooter on campus.
“We train regularly, not only with our own agency, but with the outside agencies as well,” said assistant chief James Wagner, “so that we are all on the same page as far as it comes to our response, and so we are working together immediately and appropriately to resolve the situation.”
Davis said that, because many people get on their phones to call loved ones during an emergency, it is important for users to sign up for text messages, as that will be the easiest way for the police to communicate through Code Purple.
“It is important for people to be signed up for Code Purple, and specifically to get text messages,” Davies said. “That is going to be the fastest way you’re going to get that information.”
WSU police have also been working with the student and faculty senates to perform a live emergency exercise where they will send out a Code Purple message to everyone signed up for it, which will allow everyone to experience what to do depending on the different code being sent through.
LeBlanc said the problem is that not everyone is signed up. He also said he isn’t sure why WSU members would not want this convenient and possibly life-saving service.
“We are working on strategies to improve the awareness of Code Purple,” LeBlanc said. “We have thought about putting out fliers and sending mail directly from the police department to new students.”
Students, faculty and staff can sign up for Code Purple through their eWeber portals by clicking on the link under the WSU Code Purple channel and registering with the requested information. More information is available on the Code Purple FAQ page, and interested students and faculty can contact Davies, who said he is willing to answer any questions.