Armed robbery calls for instant text alerts

Shortly after midnight on April 20, students received a safety alert email about an armed robbery at Jimmy John’s on Main Street about an hour before.

There were two male suspects, one who was armed with a revolver and fired a shot inside the restaurant. No one was injured, and the suspects fled the scene.

The robbery took place at about 10:45 p.m. Approximately an hour later, students were notified of the incident via email. A text message was not issued and a campus wide alarm did not sound.

For some students who live in Main Street Commons, the robbery took place right next door, and the two suspects fled into the Bradley community with a loaded gun.

Bradley University Police Chief Brian Joschko said in this case, there was no imminent threat to campus, and therefore, the email was enough.

“When you get a text message, it should tell you to do something or not do something,” he said. “The email is more informative.”

It should also be noted, Joschko said, that the ForeWarn alert includes a PA announcement throughout the campus, as well as an alert posted on the Bradley web site home page.

Joshcko said he could not tell the Scout exactly where the suspects fled following the robbery, but that they were running away from Main Street. Because the suspects were not running toward campus, Joshcko decided not to send a text.

However, the Scout spoke with another officer of the BUPD who said he believed a text should have been sent.

In some cases, an alert may be unnecessary. Too many ForeWarn alerts can desensitize the situation like they did two years ago, when students’ reactions to the three alerts within a month involved more eye-rolling than running to safety.

This, however, was not one of those times. At 11 p.m. on a Thursday night, students are active on campus. Not to mention the lobby of Jimmy John’s is usually still open for pedestrians. Behind Jimmy John’s and Main Street Commons, on streets like Underhill, there is a large population of students who live in rental houses and apartment complexes.

These student residences were only a few blocks away from the robbery and should have been notified of the crime. Not to mention the large number of community members that live in the area as well.

Because a ForeWarn text was not sent, students who were going to the restaurant or even walking on the streets behind the establishment could have potentially been put in danger.

Luckily, in this case, no one was injured. But the police have no way of knowing what those men planned to do after their stop at Jimmy John’s.

If the Bradley University Police Department is worried about giving off the perception that Bradley is dangerous, guess what: sometimes, it is.

Bradley is located in an urban setting and while students are constantly reminded to walk in groups after dark and be conscious of their surroundings, students have been the victim of muggings and threats throughout the past few years.

Although we acknowledge that sending an email in a timely matter was an appropriate decision, we feel that a ForeWarn text would have better benefitted the student body.

Because the BUPD did not send a text when two suspects were running through the neighborhood with a loaded gun, you have to wonder – when is an appropriate time to send a text? What is it going to take for the police to alert the university that they could be in danger?

If an incident involving a weapon happens close to campus again, we hope the Bradley community’s first indication is not a letter to their inbox.