Emergency Notification Systems and Crime Alerts
UNC Police is responsible for confirming that a significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to health or safety is occurring on campus, in conjunction with local first responders and University administrators as needed. Upon confirming the emergency, the University will immediately notify the entire campus community, including those at the Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City, the University will, without delay and considering the safety of the community, determine the content of the notification and activate the notification system. However, if in the professional judgment of responsible authorities issuing an emergency notification would compromise efforts to assist a victim or to contain, respond to or otherwise mitigate the emergency, the notification may be delayed. In those cases, the University’s chief of UNC Police, or the ranking UNC Police officer in charge during the chief’s absence, will be notified and once the potentially compromising situation has been addressed the emergency notification will be issued immediately.
Because these situations call for people to act immediately, safety officials will sound the emergency sirens, which aessre intended to be heard by people who are outdoors. When the sirens sound—including during a test—the University also sends a text message to the cellphone numbers registered by students, faculty and staff in the online campus directory. Students, faculty and staff can register their cellphone numbers in the campus directory to receive emergency text messages from the University by visiting the Onyen Services website. On that site, they can enter their Onyen and password and list their (SMS-capable) cellphone number in the Alert Carolina field. Whenever someone updates their Onyen password, they will also be reminded to register their cellphone number.
Unless the cellphone in question is provided and paid for by the University, the phone number will be treated as confidential information. Providing the phone number will not result in it becoming public, unless the number is marked as “public.” The University will only send text messages for a test and in an emergency. In addition, the University communicates by updating Alert Carolina and the University’s homepage, which triggers updates on official UNC-Chapel Hill Twitter and Facebook accounts, including the UNC Police accounts.
Other means of communication are campuswide email, the Adverse Weather and Emergency Phone Line for recorded information, the University Access Channel (Chapel Hill Spectrum Channel 4) along with other campus cable television channels and news releases for campus and local media.
Through the Environment, Health and Safety department (EHS), the University maintains emergency planning and evacuation procedures. More information about evacuation planning can be found on the EHS website.
As mentioned previously, the University reminds you to report crimes to UNC Police. The University’s assigned leadership will issue a Crime Alert to notify the campus community of any Clery Act crime that poses a serious or continuing danger to the campus community. The Crime Alert will be issued as soon as the information is available so people can protect themselves and/or their property from similar crimes.
If UNC Police believes issuing a Crime Alert would compromise efforts to address the crime, the notification may be delayed until the potentially compromising situation has been addressed.
The University communicates by sending a text message to the cellphone numbers registered by students, faculty and staff in the online campus directory. In addition, the University communicates by updating Alert Carolina and the University’s homepage, which triggers updates on official UNC-Chapel Hill Twitter and Facebook accounts, including those for UNC Police.
There were no siren activations other than announced system tests in calendar year 2021. For more information on the University’s policies and procedures in the event of an emergency, please visit the Alert Carolina website.
Training and conducting exercises are essential to improving the University’s ability to activate its emergency notification system and ensure equipment and procedures are maintained in a constant state of readiness. The University conducted a hurricane response exercise series consisting of a workshop on May 25, 2021, and a tabletop exercise on July 23, 2021. These were multifunction exercises with over 30 representatives from departments with defined roles in the University’s Emergency Operations Plan attending. Key exercise objectives were to provide a framework for developing and maintaining function-specific checklists, then applying these checklists during a scenario-based tabletop discussion. We also conducted a Winter Weather Summit on Dec. 14, 2021, with over 25 members of our Adverse Weather coordination groups, to review operational protocols for winter weather events. UNC Police conducted Active Shooter training in June 2022 for all sworn personnel. The University conducts after-action reviews of all emergency management exercises. All after-action reviews include, but are not limited to, a description of the exercise, the date, time, and whether it was announced or unannounced.
In addition, the University tests its emergency sirens twice per year and additionally as appropriate (e.g., to test significant upgrades as the system is periodically improved). In 2021, siren tests were conducted on Feb. 17, July 20 and Sept. 15. The University community was informed via email prior to each test. The University also coordinates closely with the University of North Carolina System Office to fully participate in emergency preparedness activities and work being coordinated across the UNC System.