On Oct. 26, any Bradley student awake at 2 a.m. may have experienced alarm upon viewing a text from Bradley police warning of an armed person on campus and instructing students to remain indoors. But when is an incident worthy of being declared a lockdown?
A lockdown message comes about only in response to an active shooter or armed intruder on campus. Concealed firearms are legal in Illinois but illegal on college campuses.
“We always have to be a little careful that we’re not activating this system when there’s not some sort of imminent threat,” said Bradley University police chief Brian Joschko.
Programs like Shotspotter, a system of microphones placed throughout Peoria and other cities to detect and triangulate gunshots, can alert BUPD of potential threats, but they do not provide enough evidence in and of themselves to trigger an automatic lockdown.
After last year’s shooting at an off-campus party, for example, BUPD did not activate a lockdown because they had no reason to believe the shooter was heading toward campus.
“Imminent threat, from the perspective of a police officer … may be different than the imminent threat from the perspective of a student,” Joschko said. “It has to be based on our training, our beliefs and the things that we have seen.”
October’s lockdown was activated by Lt. Noralee Fales, a shift supervisor for BUPD. Only a few people have the authority to lock down campus: Chief Joschko, BUPD shift supervisors and the president and the cabinet members of the administration of Bradley. Generally, lockdowns are activated by BUPD.
“This really has been very much left to the police department,” Joschko said. “[The president and cabinet members] have the authority to do it, but that doesn’t mean that they necessarily do it.”
Lockdowns are typically ended in coordination with the BUPD shift supervisor and Joschko. In October’s event, the lockdown was terminated after the residence had been searched and police had found no evidence the shooter was headed toward campus.
Emergency notifications are sent out when students need to take immediate action in response to an imminent threat. Text message warnings are generally restricted to life-threatening events or severe weather. Tornado warnings and other inclement weather events are the most common reason to send out an emergency notification. A “shelter in place” message, different from a lockdown, can be sent in response to an environmental threat such as a chemical spill.
The BU foreWarn system was created internally by Bradley, and its existence complies the Clery Act, a federal law that mandates universities have an emergency notification system located in specific places on their campuses. The foreWarn system encompasses texting, public address, twitter, email and webpages. A hotline phone number can also be set up in emergencies.