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Safety gets sized up a year after NIU

Last Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the tragic shooting at Northern Illinois University, during which six were killed and 22 were wounded.
Since then, Bradley has taken measures meant to prevent a similar situation from happening here.
“You are always looking for ways to fine tune safety and make it better,” University Police Chief Dave Baer said. “What we want to do is learn from what happened to prevent another event like that from happening.”
Since last year, the ForeWarn text messaging system was been implemented to warn students of a dangerous situation.
“All students and faculty are required to either register or refuse the service of ForeWarn, and will do so again in the fall,” Associate Provost for Information Resources and Technology Chuck Ruch said. “The text would probably take a few minutes to get sent out after the message is received by the vendor.”
Baer said a situation can deteriorate in a short amount of time.
“You could think that you have a violent situation at a residence hall on one side of campus, and then by time you get there the situation could have moved with the responsible individual across campus,” he said. “It can be like the combustion of striking a match to gunpowder.”
Ruch said the technology behind ForeWarn is the main reason the emergency message could take a few minutes to be sent.
“You always want things to run faster, and the messages themselves can be delivered in as little as a second,” he said. “Most of the delay there is in the network delivering the message.”
University policy is that in every classroom, at least one person has a cell phone on in class and can alert the rest of the class in case of an emergency, Ruch said.
He also said many of the bugs in the system are being worked out.
“I would not say everything is perfect, but it is getting a lot better,” he said. “We are expecting more improvements.”
One small problem with ForeWarn is the vendor sending out the message does not receive the confirmation that students receive the message and will sometimes send the message twice.
Another way the university is trying to make campus safe is the new speaker system.
“About half of the buildings on campus have the speaker system installed on them,” Safety Supervisor Rollin Arnett said. “The only buildings that do not have the speakers installed are those that will be renovated soon, so we are waiting until that is done before we install them.”
The system is audible anywhere on campus outside, Arnett said.
Facilities Management Director Ronald Doerzaph said a system of generators is in place so that even if the power goes out, a message can still be sent through the speakers.
“The system we put in place is state of the art,” he said. “It is backed up by battery power.”
Even with these new safety measures, junior finance major Allen Vinge said there is more to be done.
“When I am in my classes I do not know where to go if there is a fire or something,” he said. “The administration should make sure that everyone knows what students are supposed to do in an emergency like that.”
Ruch said instructions for an emergency are at emergency.bradley.edu.
“In some situations you have to get out of the building and others you have to stay where you are,” he said. “It is important that students know what to do.”
Even with new technologies and the services of BUPD, there is no way to guarantee tragedy will not strike here, Baer said.
“I hope it never happens but the response of our officers would be pretty quick,” he said.
Ruch said there is no way to guarantee every disaster will be avoided.
“This technology simply helps us communicate in case of an emergency,” he said. “It is not the be all end all.”
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