Editorial: Student awareness and safety should be priority for MUPD

Students should have been made aware of a dangerous suspect on and near before said suspect was found and killed by police.

Police shot and killed an armed robbery suspect in Hitt Street Parking Garage on Wednesday night.

Columbia Police initially responded to an armed robbery call from Mosers Foods, where they learned that suspect Mark Adair had threatened a woman from within her car with a gun. The woman was able to escape and contact help while Adair escaped on foot. He was later seen near Rose Music Hall around 7:30 p.m. Later that evening, around 11 p.m., police and Adair confronted one another in Hitt Street Parking Garage, resulting in the suspect’s death.

MU Alert sent out messages via email, tweet and text after the incident had already occurred, around 12:30 a.m.

This is not in any way, shape or form acceptable. MU Alert is seen constantly testing its system on Twitter, and yet when it was time to use the clearly functional network, officials delayed alerting students at an appropriate time. Students should have been notified of the situation as soon as police officers were aware of an armed suspect near campus and especially when the suspect was in the downtown area, long before the confrontation took place.

During a manhunt last May, MUPD and University officials were able to effectively send notifications over MU Alert to students, telling them sequentially where the suspect was over the course of several hours. If MU officials were able to use MU Alert effectively then, nothing should have prevented them from implementing similar strategies in this case.

MUPD and university officials have issued a formal apology for their lack of notification last night. However, there is a way to ensure situations like this do not occur in the future — MU Alert should expand its radius. Students live, work, eat and walk around downtown constantly. These students were unaware and unsafe because the suspect had not yet set foot on campus. We should not be limiting our alert system to just campus, because students exist outside of our university’s borders.

In order to accomplish these goals, MUPD and university officials need to work more closely with the Columbia Police Department in order to solve these problems. These organizations should be working out the logistics of expanding the MU Alert notification radius. MUPD and the university should even consider giving CPD the ability to send out alerts over MU Alert so that students can know when there is potential danger in their area.

We hope to never see this kind of mistake happen again. It’s better for students to be scared but safe than for students to be oblivious and in danger.

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