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Public Safety explains Kirkwood Alert

Recent events near the Kirkwood Community College campus and severe weather have caused students to question the college’s policy regarding Kirkwood Alerts. How bad does weather need to be for an alert to be made? What situations are deemed dangerous enough to be flagged by the alert team? Who makes these decisions? 

According to Andrew MacPherson, associate vice president of Public Safety, Kirkwood follows a specific procedure with weather alerts and closings, and cancellations are decided prior to 6 a.m. by senior administrators. They consult staff on site as well as monitor road conditions and weather forecasts for the day to aid in the decision. 

On Jan. 19, 2024, a shooting occurred near campus on Kirkwood Court, however no alert went out on this day. MacPherson said there were two main reasons. First, Kirkwood did not know of the event until after a suspect had already been located. Second, it was outside of Kirkwood’s geography. 

If a similar event were to happen on Kirkwood’s campus, according to the official procedure, an alert would be sent out.

“As this is not only a community safety issue, but also one of federal compliance matter, we have implemented an institutional procedure that provides guidance when we issue a Timely Warning, Emergency Notification, or other pertinent information to the campus community,” said MacPherson. 

Kirkwood Alert is a tool that allows security and safety staff to warn students of potential threats on campus such as extreme weather or an active crime scene. 

“Kirkwood Alert is our best option for alerting the campus community to potential issues or safety concerns on campus, however, as with all protocols, there are opportunities for improvements,” said MacPherson.  

He added, “One of the biggest challenges we face with Kirkwood Alert is that many students do not register their cell phone numbers and therefore only receive email notifications, which sometimes get overlooked. I would encourage everyone to get their cell phone numbers registered in Kirkwood Alert, as text messaging is one of the quickest ways to get notified of a campus closure or other emergency. We have also seen an almost immediate notification of alerts through the Rave Guardian app that we use. This is tied directly into our Kirkwood Alert system and allows for push notifications and other safety features.” 

All students and employees of Kirkwood are automatically enrolled in Kirkwood Alert with their email address. Students can then add up to three cell phone numbers and two emails.