Public Safety changes pointALERT system

Students, PS react to assault on Smithfield

Written By Sarah Gibson, Co-News Editor

In the wake of the assault at Smithfield News, it has been revealed that new changes could be coming to Public Safety within the next month.

The assault took place on Sept. 2 at 2:30 a.m. According to Public Safety’s police blotter, an individual notified Point Park police of an assault at Smithfield News on Boulevard of the Allies and Smithfield Street. Police arrived to the scene and aided the victim, who was then sent to the hospital with multiple stab wounds.

A pointALERT was sent out following the event, but some students did not receive the message. Dara Collins, a junior journalism major, was one of them.

Collins was out with friends, walking back to her apartment around the time of the incident when she saw a few police vehicles. While she originally didn’t think much of it, a police officer pulled up to her and asked if she had seen a black man in a white T-shirt. When Collins asked why, the officer informed her of what had happened. This was her first time hearing of the assault.

Collins is near certain that she’s signed up for pointALERT multiple times. She did not receive the pointALERT sent out that night. Collins also noted that she knew she was not the only student who had problems with the current pointALERT system. Lieutenant of University Police, Nicholas Black, acknowledged this with advice for students facing this problem.

“I would definitely have them follow up with IT,” Black said. “We definitely want everybody who has signed up getting it.”

While the pointALERT system, which has been in use for nine years, has traditionally been in a format where students have to sign up to get the notifications. A new version, which is still currently being written by Point Park IT staff, is being written so that students will have to opt out of getting the pointALERTs instead of opting in. Chief of Point Park police, Jeffrey Besong, had more details on the changes coming to the system 

“We’re working with IT and student life,” Besong said. “Hopefully within the next 30 days, whenever a student goes on PointWeb, it’s going to pop up and they’re going to have to register for pointALERT or opt out. This will give them another chance to automatically enroll.”

The change is coming in order to allow more students to stay updated on what’s happening on campus. Chief Besong cited that out of the four thousand students currently enrolled, less than eight hundred are signed up for pointALERT. With this new system, all students would have to become aware of the pointALERT system and either willingly choose whether or not to receive those messages.

“Honestly I think that’s a great idea,” Collins said. “It’s definitely a lot better, especially for the freshmen who may not have a professor or may not have someone to go to on campus that can tell them of the options they have.”

Besong explained that most other universities have the opt-out system in place so that when students register for classes, they too can opt out of campus safety alerts. Many other universities in the area also use the same software that Point Park uses for their campus alerts.

Omnilert is the third party vendor that provides the system for which pointALERT is based on. According to Besong, it is commonly used by many other universities including local ones like Robert Morris and Duquesne.

Since the assault, Chief Besong has sent out an annual Security and Fire Safety Report and a mass email to students detailing Point Park’s safety programs, including the pointALERT system. Lt. Black offered some advice on how students can work with public safety help ensure that Point Park remains safe.

“Nothing is too minor,” Black said. “Some people think ‘I don’t want to say anything,’ but be cognizant of your surroundings and around your buildings and dorms. Report things.”

Lt. Black also advises being cognisant of who students hold doors open for when entering campus buildings, calling if a student sees something suspicious, not being afraid to report something, and knowing how to get in contact with public safety. Public Safety can be reached with the extension “2222” on any campus phone or at 412-392-3960 on any other phone.

Disclaimer: Source Dara Collins is co-sports editor for The Globe