On Nov. 9 Daniel Arushanov walked into the Student Union Building with a loaded gun. A Lobo Alert was not sent out that day, although he was taken into custody, and is now banned from campus.
The Clery Act states that alerts must be sent out as soon as an immediate and present danger to students has been confirmed.
“We have to verify there is a threat, there was no threat to the campus and no time to alert to what was going on,” said Byron Piatt, manager of UNM Emergency Management.
Arushanov violated the law by bringing a weapon on campus, which is when the SUB manager made the call to the UNM Police Department, UNMPD Lt. Tim Stump said.
“If Arushanov left campus the day he came with a gun, a Lobo Alert would have been sent out immediately,” he said. “We want to make sure we get the best information out as quickly as possible.”
UNMPD was not able to verify the threat until they arrived at the SUB to assess the situation, Piatt said.
“This turned out to be a more elevated threat once we spoke to him, but that’s why he went to jail,” Stump said.
According to the Clery Act handbook, “every title IV institution is required to immediately notify the campus community upon confirmation of a significant emergency or dangerous situation occurring on the campus that involves an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or employees.”
The handbook considers an “armed intruder” an immediate threat.
“There wasn’t anything for us to tell you to make you more safe,” Piatt said, about why an alert was not immediately sent out. “You may stop paying attention to the alerts. We really want to send out Lobo Alerts that say there’s something going on and there’s something you can do to make yourself safe.”
If there was a threat, the University would put out a message alerting every one of the situation through email, text, Facebook, Twitter and RSS feeds warning people to avoid the area.
“This is a serious issue, and we’re all very fortunate it didn’t turn violent,” UNM parent and alum Scott Greene said. “There’s lots of reasons to be prudent about ordering a lockdown as you can imagine, but I believe protocol must be constantly tested and modified — not sure that’s being done aggressively enough yet.”
UNMPD asked the Metropolitan Detention Center to alert them if and when Arushanov was released from jail so they could to take precautionary measures, Stump said, and when he was released, the University made the decision to alert everyone through an email.
“There is still not an overt threat, that’s why we didn’t send it as a Lobo Alert. But we sent the email, warning campus of the man returning,” Piatt said.
Greene voiced concern over the subject line of the email received by his daughter. The subject of the email was “Clery Act Compliance Officer: Campus wide Clery Act Advisory.”
“The wording was very ambiguous, and the email also went immediately into her junk folder,” he said. “I also seriously doubt most students know what the Clery Act is or means — I certainly didn’t.”
Stump and Piatt said they would not have changed how the situation was handled.
Openly carrying a gun in public is not a crime in New Mexico, but University law states that weapons are banned on campus.
Visitors come to campus all the time and are not familiar with the laws, Stump said. Someone could be walking on campus with a gun not realizing they are breaking the law.
“Our job is to assess the situation and tell him you need to holster your gun in your car,” Stump said. “You can have a gun in your car, because it is an extension of your house — but you cannot have one on campus.”
Ultimately, UNMPD cannot assess a threat to campus until they get a call, he said.
“The community are the eyes and the ears,” Stump said. “We depend on student, staff, faculty security and officers to notify us. If you see something suspicious, it doesn’t matter what it is, we’re here to make sure you are safe.”
With one phone call someone may be able to deter a crime, he said. The UNMPD number is on the back of every student’s Lobo I.D. card.
“It’s very important to us to get those calls,” Stump said. “We would rather take one call, deter and arrest one person, than to take ten police reports from people who have been a victim of a crime.”
Nikole McKibben is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @nmckibben92.