The Norman Transcript

Opinion

January 24, 2014

Learning from false alarm

NORMAN — The shooting tragedy Tuesday on the campus at Purdue University already had the nation’s campus administrators on alert this week. So it was understandable that University of Oklahoma officials were anxious when a faculty member reported hearing what she thought were gunshots Wednesday morning in Gould Hall.

It turned out to be a false alarm, possibly construction noises from the nearby Scholars Walk work. But if errors were to be made here, it’s best to be on the side of caution and student safety.

OU officials immediately put the campus on lockdown and ordered students, faculty and staff to shelter in place. Some heeded the text and email warnings and stayed inside. Other students seemed to be curious and walked toward the scene, perhaps drawn by television station helicopters overhead.

There were wild rumors being sent by texts all over campus. The shooter had taken hostages. The shooter was now moving to Price Hall. Thankfully, all of the reports, including the initial call of shots fired, turned out to be false alarms.

We learned a few things Wednesday. OU and Norman police have the communication and tactical ability to respond quickly with multiple weapons and pieces of equipment. OU’s text alert system works, but like the tornado siren, recipients must follow the instructions for it to do any good.

Finally, we pray that our community will never have to deal with a tragic event that we see too often in other parts of the country. However, it gives us comfort to know that local law enforcement is prepared and responds quickly and professionally when the call goes out.

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