Posted September 5, 2012 Atlanta, GA
Signed Up for Jacket Guardian?
Jacket Guardian allows cell phone users to make emergency calls directly to Georgia Tech’s Police Department, allowing police to pinpoint a phone’s GPS location and critical information about the registered user. All information is secure and private until the system is activated. Users also have their profile enabled to function with Atlanta’s Smart911 center. Sign up for the service here.
On Thursday morning at 11 a.m. sharp, a phone call, text message, email or all three will alert you to a test of the Georgia Tech Emergency Notification System. The GTENS system is tested regularly, this time occurring in September, National Emergency Preparedness month. GTENS alerts are issued by the Office of Emergency Preparedness when members of the campus community should take immediate action, triggered by situations such as evacuations, severe weather or other threatening scenarios.
GTENS alerts, however, are not the only alert messages the Tech community receives. The Clery Act Safety Alert, an email recognized by its bracketed subject line, red headline and subsequent bullet points, is the other primary type of alert sent across campus. Clery alerts are distributed as timely warning of crimes that represent a threat to the safety of students or employees.
The federal Clery Act requires all colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs to keep and disclose information about crime on or near their campuses. Because the Clery alerts are meant to inform of an imminent threat, if an incident occurs and the perpetrator is immediately apprehended, an alert will likely not be sent.
Though the Department of Education only requires that alerts be issued for incidents on campus, Georgia Tech Police make it a practice to over-communicate when it comes to Clery alerts. For this reason, more than 70 percent of Clery alerts issued during the past two years related to incidents off campus, in areas where large populations of students live, with the ultimate goal of ensuring the safety of the community.
“In order to give timely warning to those in the area, alerts are generated using the best information police have at the time of an incident,” said Georgia Tech Deputy Chief of Police Robert Connolly. “In some cases, subsequent interviews can reveal new or conflicting information about a case.” In these instances, officers review initial reports and re-interview victims if needed to fill in missing pieces.
Failing to issue an alert in a situation that warrants it can mean both an increased danger for those in the area, as well as fines from the Department of Education when it conducts regular audits of campus practices.
Clery alerts are emailed to all students, faculty and staff unless they opt out. GTENS alerts are also sent via email, but campus community members wanting a phone call and text alert may enable those options at passport.gatech.edu.