Public Feedback Following the Purdue University Shooting: Lessons-Learned and Plans for the Future

On January 21, 2014, Purdue University student Andrew Boldt was fatally shoGun t on the school’s West Lafayette campus by fellow student and teaching assistant, Cody Cousins. In response to the shooting, Purdue officials convened an ad hoc panel to evaluate and analyze feedback received from the public following the event. This past Monday, April 28, 2014, the panel submitted a final report that outlines its observations and recommendations for enhancements to the University’s emergency training, preparedness, alert, and response mechanisms, based on that feedback.

In its report, the panel separated public feedback into four different categories: physical facilities, notification and communication, mental health and privacy issues, and first responders. Within each category, a designated sub-committee of experts was tasked with choosing the most important and/or relevant comments to highlight and analyze in the final report.

In short, “the ad hoc panel confirmed the existence of practices and procedures that are generally well-designed to enable Purdue respond to crises and emergencies. To the extent this event revealed a weakness, it was in the lack of awareness of the procedures in certain cases, thus revealing a general need for more communication and training about Purdue’s crisis response protocols.”

The panel specifically highlighted a few aspects of Purdue’s response protocol in need of improvement, including: door and lock policies for campus classrooms and other facilities, electronic emergency alerts (text messaging, email, social media, etc), the protection of classified material in emergency situations, training, education, and outreach for students, staff, and first responders, the availability and “state of awareness” of on-campus mental health resources, and shelter in place and lockdown processes.

While the report states that the ad hoc panel is not responsible for implementation of its recommendations, “a future group (the “Implementation Panel”) may be formed for the purpose of evaluating them and developing a plan for their further implementation.”

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