MU Alert and MUPD news releases explained

While both are intended to inform the public, news releases are intended for the media.

Whenever a crime unfolds on or around campus, MU Alert and MU Police Department news releases bridge the gap between informed officials and affected students.

MU Alert uses text messages, emails, website updates and social media to quickly spread awareness of potential or immediate threats to campus. These include “weather-related emergencies, bomb threats and criminal activity on or near campus,” according to the MU Alert website.

MU Alert is mainly coordinated by MUPD and MU spokesman Christian Basi, who collaborate on informing the campus.

When sending out an alert, many factors are taken into consideration beyond just time, MUPD Maj. Scott Richardson said.

“The reliability of the person reporting the information to us, the danger of what the person might be reporting, what is the possibility of one of our faculty, student, staff or visitor getting injured in our area ... Those types of things are what we take into consideration before sending out an alert,” Richardson said.

Although MU Alert and MUPD news releases serve to inform the public, the information platforms are geared toward different audiences, and each outlet reports different types of crime.

“A crime alert might come out for something that is immediate, and the campus needs to be notified,” Richardson said. “That would come out to for example, if you signed up for the text alerts or you received it in your email. So those are alerts. Press releases would be items that we send to the press. We have an email that includes all of the news affiliates so that would be press release.”

News releases typically detail recent arrests that were made, information that would be sought out by the media, but would not be necessary to inform the public in an urgent way as featured in MU Alert.

“Media releases and press releases are just simply what we want to get out to the media to inform them of something,” MUPD Maj. Brian Weimer said. “We send them out a lot of times if we are getting a lot of media calls about a specific subject so it’s easy to contact everyone at once that way so I don’t get a lot of calls but it could be a lot of things, like if we want to alert the media of something important, such as our reaccreditation efforts back in July.”

News releases also can potentially aid police efforts in locating a suspect involved in a crime, informing the media and creating a chain of awareness ending ultimately with the public.

In instances like the threats made in the evening of Nov. 10, MU Alerts and news releases not only work to inform affected students but also quell circulating rumors.

The MU Alert website was updated twice Nov. 10, stating that extra security measures were being taken in light of MUPD's investigation of threats of violence made on Yik Yak.

On Nov. 11, MUPD updated users on the status of the investigation by announcing that a suspect had been apprehended, and that MU leaders are working to improve the safety of the community.

"Mizzou leadership hears your concerns and condemns threats made against our community," an MU alert website update said,"We want you to know we're here and are focused on your safety and well-being. We're working as a team to continue to move forward as a stronger community."

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