On Saturday, Feb. 12, shots were fired in the area of Girard Park near the Legacy apartments.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette Police Department (ULPD) responded to the incident, and no injuries or damage to property were reported. ULPD made the decision at the time to not send out an alert to students through the Emergency Notification System (ENS).
Although an alert was not sent out, a separate incident also involving the discharge of a firearm on Wednesday, Feb. 16 in the area of St. Mary Boulevard and Hebrard Street did trigger an alert to be sent through the ENS.
Lt. Billy Abrams, information officer for the ULPD, clarified that these incidents differed because the call on Feb. 12 came from the Lafayette police and was limited in the information provided.
“The key difference is the call came to us from Lafayette 911,” Abrams said. “One of the key things that we had on Wednesday was that we had a victim. We had a specific person that we can talk to and say, ‘Okay, what happened? What did you see?’ and they gave us the information.”
Abrams further spoke on the Clery Act, which requires institutions to issue a timely warning when a crime is occurring that poses a serious or ongoing threat to the campus community.
“So that’s the key thing. Did it pose a serious or ongoing threat to the campus community? And at the time, the answer was no,” Abrams said, adding that at the time of the call, the ULPD didn’t have any suspects, witnesses, reports of property damage or injuries.
It was this lack of information that resulted in the university police not sending an alert or a notice regarding the incident.
Abrams emphasized the importance of relaying information regarding any incident or emergency to the police as soon as possible.
“It’s very important that we want our readers in the university community to know that if something happens, then you have to call immediately,” Abrams said. “The sooner that we get the information, then the quicker we can make the determination as to what type of notification we need to send out.”
Meg Norwood and Julia McDow, sophomores majoring in visual arts and living at Legacy Park, expressed their frustrations at the university police’s decision to not send out an alert at the time of the incident. Norwood and McDow are also paid graphic designers and podcast hosts for The Vermilion.
“I’m pretty annoyed that they never sent out an emergency notification,” Norwood said. “Because a lot of people didn’t know that that even happened, and we didn’t even know until someone from my group of people was like ‘hey, there was a shooting, don’t come to Legacy.’ And we were like ‘we live here,’ and we didn’t get any sort of notice that it had even happened. And they still haven’t said anything, and it just was very frustrating to be right next to all of that and no one even telling us, like no professional even telling us.”
“I would like to have been informed,” McDow said. “I felt like being trapped at the scene of a crime that I didn’t even know was committed until someone else texted in a club Discord chat.”
McDow’s mother, who did not wish to be named, also expressed her concern over the university police’s decision to not send an alert.
“It’s very upsetting,” she said. “It’s scary because she could have been in danger and not have known and gone out there.”
Abrams reiterated that not sending an alert was a decision that had to be made, and that the university police’s objective is to ensure the safety of the campus community.
“We, as police officers, we have to make a split-second decision as to what to do, what not to do. Are we right 100% of the time? Well, point to me someone that is. And I’m not saying that to say Saturday we were, or we weren’t, but it’s just a decision that made is based on the information that we have,” Abrams said.
Abrams further reiterated the university police’s goal to care for the safety of those on UL Lafayette campus.
“Our objective is to provide a safe environment on campus for that people that live here, for the people that work here, and for the people that visit here,” said Abrams.