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ECU reviews lockdown response

Greenville   (Nov. 18, 2011)   —   East Carolina University officials are continuing to review the lockdown episode on the campus Wednesday, Nov. 16, to determine how the university can improve its response to such events.

A report of an armed man near the campus Wednesday led to a lockdown of the campus. ECU police, joined byofficers from the Greenville Police Department, Pitt County Sheriff's Office and the North Carolina Highway Patrol, searched the campus and nearby neighborhoods until it was discovered that the man who reportedly had a rifle was carrying an umbrella.

Bill Koch, associate vice chancellor for campus safety, said, “After every incident and every drill, we have extensive debriefings and reviews to look for ways that we can improve our response and enhance the safety of our students, faculty and staff. We take every complaint seriously and respond as quickly as we can.”

Two issues reported on Wednesday are being addressed, Koch said. One involved students who did not receive the university's initial text message alert, and the other concerned reports that faculty members left students alone in classrooms, he said.

The text problem was a result of human error, Koch said. “A check box was missed while initiating the notification,” he said. “As a result of our review, we will have at least one additional person look at texts before they are sent.”

The university's other emergency notification tools and procedures–including email, outdoor speakers, message boards, text messages to faculty and staff, messages on university telephones, and the university website–functioned properly, he said.

The university is also investigating reports that some faculty members had left students in classrooms during the lockdown. Provost Marilyn Sheerer, the university's chief academic officer, said, “It is clearly inappropriate for faculty members to leave during a lockdown.”

Faculty members who did not remain with their students and who have been identified will be counseled, she said. In addition, she said, deans and department chairs will be asked to make sure faculty members understand their responsibilities in such situations.

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Contact: Mary Schulken | 252-328-6482