VT Improved Alerting to an Active Shooter – Only 20 Minutes this time.

There is probably no campus in the country that has done more to prepare for an active shooter scenario than Virginia Tech.  In the wake of the abysmally slow response to another active shooter in 2007 who killed 32 people and wounded 25 others, Virginia Tech and surrounding police agencies vowed to provide immediate response to active shooters at the university and to issue campus wide alerts the instant they become aware of an incident.  They have also steadfastly denied students and faculty to right to defend themselves by lawfully carrying concealed handguns.

This is the proof that they have kept their promise to improve response…

14 Minutes to Respond – 20 Minutes to Issue an Alert

On Thursday, December 8th 2011 at 12:16 pm the Virginia State Police responded to the shooting of a university police officer on the Virginia Tech Campus.

Just before 12:30 pm VT Police were notified by a witness that one of their police officers had been shot on campus.  VT police officers were dispatched to the scene of the shooting at that time.

At 12:36 pm, VT Police dispatchers finally issued its first alert  which went out by text messages, e-mail, Twitter, and the university public address system.

“Gun shots reported- Coliseum Parking lot. Stay Inside. Secure doors. Emergency personnel responding. Call 911 for help.”

For at least 20 minutes students were blissfully unaware that they were in potential mortal danger and had no effective method of self-defense.  For hours after the alert, students did as instructed, they defenselessly cowered in classrooms praying that they weren’t next on a murder’s agenda.

This makes about as much sense as setting your hair on fire and waiting for the fire department to come put it out…  There are actually people who would force you to wait and burn rather than use a fire extinguisher now.

Update: Some times in the original post were up to 1 min off.  Corrected based on best available data from verifiable sources including twitter time-stamps from the alerts cited.

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9 Responses to VT Improved Alerting to an Active Shooter – Only 20 Minutes this time.

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  5. Jake says:

    Wait. You’re saying that police were responding 14 minutes before they were notified? Do you have a source for that? Because it makes no sense.

    I was listening to the police scanner immediately after this happened. In fact, I tuned in quickly enough to hear “officer down” from the first officer to reach the scene. It was about 5 or 6 minutes after that that the campus sirens were started. This is reasonable when you consider what has to happen between the dispatcher receiving the first call and the alert system actually being set off.

    On your other point, about allowing campus carry, I agree 100%.

    • Sean Caranna says:

      It was 14 minutes before Virginia Tech University Police were notified by a witness. The VA State Police were already working the incident at 12:16 pm but failed to notify the university police.

      There was an apparent breakdown in communication between law enforcement agencies at the beginning of the incident. Alerts were issues at 12:36 pm, six (6) minutes after Virginia Tech University Police were told that one of there officers was shot by a witness at 12:30 pm.

      • Jake says:

        “The VA State Police were already working the incident at 12:16 pm but failed to notify the university police.”

        Again, do you have a source for that? Not only do I find it hard to believe, but I also cannot find any other sources claiming the same thing. The closest I can find is that Officer Crouse called in the traffic stop at about 1215, and the first call received by the VTPD was at about 1230. There is no information that I can find stating specifically when in that 15 minutes he was actually shot (and his dash camera was on during the whole incident, so that time is known, it just appears that they are not saying yet). While I don’t doubt that it’s possible, I find it highly unlikely that he called in the stop at about 1215 and the VSP were working his death at 1216.

        • Sean Caranna says:

          Listen to the Thursday night press conference at the 1min 22sec mark.


          VA State Police responded at 12:16 pm

          • Jake says:

            Interesting, and definitely a major screwup if true. However, I would lean more towards it being a misstatement by the Trooper, mainly because 1216 is also the time given for when Officer Crouse called in the traffic stop. It’s simply more likely that he read the wrong time from his notes than that the VSP didn’t notify VT of a report that one of their officers had been shot. It also doesn’t square with the VT officer’s statement during that same conference that their dispatch communicated with Officer Crouse during the stop and confirmed he was okay at that point. (The uncut video – minus the Q&A portion – can be found at “http://en.video.canoe.tv/archive/virginia-tech-press-conference/1317055483001”. The relevant part starts at about 2:25)

            Additionally, if true, why hasn’t it been repeated? The press is salivating at the chance to pounce on VT for any possible failures, and it has been three days now. Yet I haven’t seen this stated anywhere else.

            I’ll keep looking (but not tonight) for the Q&A part of that press conference to see if anyone asked about it, but it seems most likely that it was simply a misstatement by the trooper.

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