Throughout the month of January, there were numerous alerts on the GatorSAFE app. GatorSAFE is the official UF safety app that provides students, faculty and staff with added safety on the UF campus. In the age of digital communication, students rely upon the GatorSAFE app for important safety alerts. Due to the rash of violence on college campuses, students must remain constantly vigilant when it comes to campus security. The alerts sent through the GatorSAFE are meant to deliver prompt and accurate information.
However, these reports and alerts don’t always reflect the entire truth of a situation.
On January 17, around 3:22 p.m., an alert through both the GatorSAFE app and UF Public Safety’s Twitter stated, “UF Alert Shots Fired at Vet Med. Avoid area or secure in place if nearby. Details to follow.”
Many details did follow, including a description of the suspect.
While the description of the suspect was accurately covered, the details of the incident were not.
At about 3:34 p.m., an alert again through both the GatorSAFE app and UF Public Safety’s Twitter stated, “UF Alert this IS NOT an active shooter. Suspect last seen in rear of Vet Med in the wooded area possibly target shooting.” The alert and tweet claimed that the suspect “IS NOT” an active shooter, though later both accounts claimed the suspect could be “possibly target shooting,” creating even further confusion.
It wasn’t until later at 4:58 p.m., that the confusion completely cleared. Linda Stump-Kurnik, Chief of UF Police Department, tweeted, “Like all of you, I am relieved that the reports this afternoon of shots being fired in a wooded area near the College of Veterinary Medicine turned out to be an individual conducting target practice.”
This specific incident sheds light on whether these alerts are sent out too quickly and with not enough information. I
Is there a trade-off between quickness and factual information?
“The goal of UF alerts,” said Stump-Kurnik, “is to make the community aware as quickly as possible of potential threats so that individuals can use their best judgment and take the best course of action.”
Students at UF have differing views and opinions on the app.
Freshman at UF, Angelica Zeas, believes that the app is helpful and does not require improvement. “I do know what the GATORSAFE app is and I do have it. I think it is helpful at times especially because there are several resources on there. I think its key features include its accessibility to alerts and contacts that ensure the safety of students,” she said.
On the other hand, UF freshman Sydney Dotson believes that the app could be improved. “I have the GATORSAFE app and I think it is somewhat helpful, but I think that it could be improved with easier access to its uses and better ways to announce dangerous situations,” said Dotson.
Officer Henry Belleville, officer at UFPD for 15 years, spoke about the high standards UFPD meets for UF alerts through the GatorSAFE app. “The GatorSAFE app has many helpful attributes and features. An alert and any information is sent out as quickly as possible. If a mistake is made such as a typo, disciplinary action is taken at UFPD,” said Belleville.
“These alerts are taken very seriously,” said Belleville. Clearly, these alerts have the potential of being extremely beneficial to the UF community. Through improvement, these alerts could possibly be both prompt and factual at the same time, eliminating any confusion and distress.