Following the many concerns expressed to the president’s office and University constituent leaders regarding UNM’s response to an incident in mid-February involving a man brandishing a weapon at separate locations near to and on campus, President Chaouki Abdallah met with UNM Police Department Chief McCabe, Emergency Manager Byron Piatt and representatives from other UNM departments to discuss the response to this incident.

In Abdallah’s subsequent message to the UNM community, he reaffirmed not only that the safety of this campus is a top priority, but that it is imperative that those who study, work and visit understand and feel confident in how we handle these situations.

As with any situation, UNM did several things well and there were deficiencies in some areas. In particular, the communication to students, faculty and staff needs to be more detailed and instructive. Going forward, in order to improve UNM’s response protocol, emergency staff will ensure the following:

  1. Issue LoboAlerts as quickly as possible, which contain clear information, including any specific actions that should be taken.
  2. Follow up initial communication with updates, sent out in a timely manner, to ensure the campus community is kept apprised of the situation.
  3. Provide support staff from University Communication and Marketing to assist UNMPD with message content and the resources to update the campus community, particularly on social media.
  4. Schedule meetings with ASUNM and GPSA to solicit input and address concerns and include representatives of both organizations in our future planning and communications.
  5. Include more information in class syllabi regarding campus safety procedures.
  6. Explore new avenues and resources to enhance safety and work toward creating realistic drills that increase preparedness for all.

“I am now confident based on our initial review that the response by UNMPD was timely and they followed appropriate procedures, based on the information they had.” Abdallah said. “Each situation is however different and while we always aim to provide an environment conducive to learning, we must balance that with ensuring the safety of the entire campus community. There may be situations where we cannot disclose every detail of the incident, but rest assured, we will communicate as best we can what actions to take to ensure your safety.”

In this instance, UNMPD determined that after an extensive search of the campus, there was no imminent threat, but they elected to send out an advisory so the campus community would be aware of the situation. Had this individual posed an imminent threat, the initial LoboAlert would have contained instructions on what actions to take.

In light of recent horrific and senseless shootings, Abdallah emphasized to the campus community his complete trust in UNMPD, our emergency management team, and the Albuquerque Police Department.

“These are professionals who are well-versed and ready to act to ensure the safety of one-and-all in these types of situations.” Abdallah said. “I also understand the frustration of the individuals who felt like there was not enough communication or instruction on what to do, and I am hopeful that our proposed communications steps will help to remedy these shortcomings. I believe that the new communication and training steps we are putting in place will address these concerns.”

Abdallah then urged the campus community, including faculty, staff and students, to use caution, be aware of your surroundings and immediately report anything that may seem out of the ordinary. Everyone is responsible for the safety of the campus community. For more information, visit UNM Campus Safety.

If you ever notice any suspicious behavior, contact the UNM Police Department at 505.277.2241 immediately.