USM reminds public of campus safety following Miss. State incident

USM reminds public of campus safety following Miss. State incident

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - After Mississippi State University was on lock-down Thursday following a reported active shooter, the University of Southern Mississippi said they feel well prepared for an emergency situation on campus should it happen.

"Never think that it can't happen here," USM Police Chief Bob Hopkins said.

Hopkins said his department regularly trains for active shooter situations, and with each incident at other campuses, they learn more on how to be prepared with the necessary tools and tactics.

"Our goal is responding as quickly as we can to interrupt that [perpetrator's] plan and stop whatever is occurring as quickly as we can," he said.

The university has a phone and e-mail system called Eagle Alert, which sends text messages, e-mails and phone calls when important information needs to be relayed immediately to the university community. Hopkins said students are automatically enrolled in the system, and faculty and staff, as well as parents, can opt-in to the alerts.

USM's Chief Communication Officer Jim Coll said those who participate in the Eagle Alert system are encouraged to update their information at this site. Additional resources can also be found there, including a video that explains what to do in an active shooter situation.

Social media is another tool the university utilizes to quickly deliver information. Coll said the public should rely on the university's twitter (@SouthernMiss) for up-to-the-second information.

"What we're sending is going to be the most factual information that's available," Hopkins explained, after seeing misinformation spread online in the Mississippi State incident.

Coll also said notifications would be posted online to the university's emergency website, and media inquiries would be processed through their primary website.

"The biggest tool is communication," Hopkins said.

The suspect in Thursday's incident at Mississippi State allegedly threatened to commit suicide in addition to harming others, and USM said they also have counseling services on campus should students need them.

To report suspicious activity, call 911, and always be aware of your surroundings.