Purdue shooting prompts new security features in classrooms

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – It’s a new alarm Purdue safety officials hope they’ll never have to sound, but one Purdue Homeland Security Institute Director Eric Dietz said they hope makes a big difference.

“We know Purdue is already a very safe place and we hope to make it even more safe,” said Dietz.

New beacons have been installed in 27 large classrooms on campus. The beacons will flash and an alarm will sound in an emergency situation.

A  security feedback panel met this summer to discuss security upgrades on campus in response to the shooting in January.

Dietz said the biggest concern was reaching as many students as quickly as possible.

“Really what we want with this Purdue Alert system is kind of a defense in depth, or an alert system in depth,” said Dietz. “So, you have multiple opportunities to get the message. The system will probably err on probably telling you more than one way, just to make sure we get the message out.”

In January, Dietz said a text alert was sent out warning of an armed person on campus. He said they were pleased with how many people the text alert reached but he said sometimes it’s not reliable.

“We have some classrooms that are in the basement for instance and they don’t get cell service,” said Dietz. “So, we really need to make sure that on a big campus like Purdue, we have a variety of notification methods.”

Dietz said new door locks have also been installed along with desktop pop-up alerts. He said Purdue’s Twitter account has also been linked to the alert system.

Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to sign up for emergency text alerts from Purdue. Faculty and staff are also advised to familiarize themselves with their Building Emergency Plan.

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