When a 19-year-old University of Texas sophomore terrified the campus with an AK-47 last September, police from different agencies struggled to communicate with each other as they sought to secure the situation. That was one of many findings contained in a report released today by the University of Texas Police Department.
For example, when commanders told officers from UTPD, the Austin Police Department, and the Texas Department of Public Safety to “clear” a building, some officers thought that meant to evacuate it. Others thought it meant to clear the building of potential suspects.
Another communication breakdown occurred when police from the various agencies were all told to switch to the same radio channel. The report said:
- Not all police switched to the correct radio channel
- UTPD dispatch could not communicate on the radio channel
- The command post didn’t know everyone switched to a new channel
The police response also had many successes, the report says, and validated many of UTPD’s preparedness measures. The police force had developed an “aggressive preparedness plan” for an “active shooter assault” on campus, which helped officers prepare for the event.
UTPD's emergency alert system, something the university beefed up after the Virginia Tech shootings, helped quickly warn people that a shooter was on campus. The alert system included warnings sent out via text message, email, on the web, and through the university’s siren system.
No one was injured when 19-year-old Colton Tooley fired eleven shots from an AK-47 assault rifle on September 28, 2010. He used the final round to take his own life inside the Perry-Castaneda Library.
You can read the full 18-page report here.