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WKU considers new security measures after lockdown

BOWLING GREEN — Western Kentucky University officials are considering additional security measures after reports of gunfire late last month led to a campus lockdown.

School officials said they were pleased with the reponse to the incident, but they may identify some changes. Police later said the Oct. 22 reports of gunfire on the campus were unfounded, though there were two separate fights between a group of students on campus that prompted students to call 911.

"We are taking a hard look at everything that happened that day and the days that followed, and looking at how we can improve," Bob Skipper, a spokesman for the university, told the Daily News of Bowling Green. "I think things went as well as could be expected, but we can make some improvements and learn from what happened."

Robert Dean, chief of the campus police department, declined to comment on the investigation, which has produced no arrests. Several students were interviewed but not charged following the incident.

After school officials began receiving 911 calls from students, they sent two text messages to nearly 14,000 cell phone subscribers warning them to stay clear of two areas on campus — South Campus and Pearce Ford Tower, a 27-story dormitory. One text message warned of reports of gunfire.

Skipper said a central concern officials are discussing is the ability to communicate when the cell phone towers become overwhelmed in a time of crisis. Skipper said he was at the South Campus within minutes of the student evacuation and found it difficult to get a cell phone signal to reach his office with updates.

The university is considering a radio system and is in the process of talking with other agencies to possibly share the cost.

Skipper said another improvement in communication could help squelch rumors that flew around campus after the second text message warned of gunfire.

Skipper said he would have liked to have communicated with the campus again before an all-clear was sent through outdoor alert speakers and text messages about two hours after the second text message.

He said a message indicating that the school was still in a secure situation but no one had been shot could have eased some students' minds.