Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Dear Hawkeye parents and families,

As a parent, my heart sank when I learned of the shooting at Michigan State University. As a proud alum of the University of Iowa and a law enforcement officer, it hit especially close to home. The safety of our children is always a top priority, and it’s natural to have questions about how we prepare for these incidents, and what would happen if an emergency were to occur here. I want to assure you that we have protocols and procedures in place to respond quickly and effectively.

Here’s what I can share about the University of Iowa Department of Public Safety.

We reassess after every tragedy that occurs in our nation and worldwide. These incidents are a reminder of the importance of helping our students, faculty, and staff take an active role in prevention to make our campus as prepared as possible to support a safe environment.

Our department takes an “all of the above” approach that includes campus law enforcement officers trained at a level that exceeds standards, comprehensive threat assessment programs and intervention, preparing our community to respond, and supporting the mental and emotional well-being of the people in our community.

Something I am proud of here at Iowa is that our Threat Assessment Team is made up of threat managers with backgrounds in human resources, student services, health care, and law enforcement. Their varied perspectives allow them to assess threats in a more informed way. Each has access to different sources of information and reports involving students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors. This broad approach helps them identify and monitor potential threats and intervene with campus resources, mitigating the risk of violence.

You may be wondering how you can help your student cope with the stress of these incidents and prepare for an emergency on our campus. Here are steps you and your student can take to be informed and prepared:

  • Make sure your student is signed up to receive Hawk Alerts via text message, which is the fastest way to receive an alert. All students are automatically signed up to receive these emergency notifications, but they should check their preferences. To avoid slowing message delivery and to ensure they reach the people who may be in danger first, parents and families cannot sign up to receive these messages.
  • Check our emergency website during an active Hawk Alert for updates. These messages are also shared on our Twitter account (@uiowa_police).
  • Talk to your student about what they might do during an emergency. We regularly communicate the principles of “Run, Hide, Fight,” and offer training on violent incident survival and how to provide aid to an injured person.
  • Remind your student that if they see something, say something. We rely on those in our community to recognize and report troubling behaviors so the university can intervene and provide resources to mitigate the risk of violence.
  • The university has resources available if your student is struggling, including University Counseling Service at 319-335-7294, and a 24-Hour Support and Crisis Line. An exhaustive list is available here.

What happened at Michigan State last week was tragic and heartbreaking. The same is true for all targeted acts of violence we’ve witnessed throughout the world. Though we cannot prevent 100% of these tragedies, the safety of your student is our top priority. We are glad they’ve chosen to be Hawkeyes, and we commit ourselves every day to supporting their safety.

Mark Bullock
Assistant Vice President and Director, UI Department of Public Safety