Diacon promises review of emergency alert system following recent incident

Kent+City+Police+wait+outside+of+the+Student+Recreation+and+Wellness+Center+after+the+rumor+of+a+threat+spread+on+social+media.

Kent City Police wait outside of the Student Recreation and Wellness Center after the rumor of a threat spread on social media.

Owen MacMillan, Digital Content Manager

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to include information from Kent State University Police Department.
Following a recent incident in which a social media post was interpreted as an active shooter threat by many on campus, president Todd Diacon said Kent State will review its emergency alert system.

In a university-wide email today, Diacon reflected on the event and spoke about the importance of an effective emergency response system.

Kent State President Todd Diacon

“We are taking this opportunity to review our emergency communication procedures to determine how we can be more efficient and transparent when alerting the community,” he said. “In a world where school-related shootings are unfortunately too common, regular evaluation of and improvement to our emergency processes are critical.”

The incident occurred when a man posted a Snapchat picture of a gun in his lap with “Kent State 3 p.m.” as the caption. Students recognized this as a potential shooter threat and warnings and screenshots spread rapidly across campus.

Kent State university police heard of the situation and resolved it quickly, discovering that the post was just an invitation to play basketball at the Beverly J. Warren recreation center.

“Because of the exceptional work of our Kent State Police Services, we were able to determine that this was, thankfully, not a real or active threat,” Diacon said. “Indeed, subsequent investigation confirmed that the message was simply reminding a group of friends to meet at a designated time to play pickup basketball.”

Tricia Knoles, a community resource officer from the university police services, said the incident is still under investigation.

“We have to confirm with the prosecutor to see if there are any applicable charges,” she said. “There’s no timeframe.”

This intent was anything but clear from the post though, and Diacon praised the proactivity and speed of KSU students in identifying a potential threat.

“This incident highlights the speed and impact of social media messages that go viral and the importance of a community willing to step up and say something when they see a potential threat to their fellow Flashes,” he said.

KentWired awaits updates on what changes to the alert system might look like, as Diacon didn’t share any specific potential changes, but he repeatedly emphasized speed and clarity as the most important aspects of the system.

Diacon closed his email again praising Kent students and asking them to remain vigilant of potential threats.

“I encourage you all to continue speaking up when you see something that isn’t right and to keep looking out for each other,” he said.

Owen MacMillan is a digital content manager. Contact him at [email protected]