OUPD text alerts provide a new way to report crime, emergencies

OUPD+text+alerts+provide+a+new+way+to+report+crime%2C+emergencies

by Ali DeRees

Have you ever found yourself in a situation in which you may have needed help and needed quick action, or didn’t think a 911 call was necessary? Oakland University students, faculty and employees now have that faster, easier option with Oakland University Police Department’s text alerts.

Students and faculty can text “OUPD” with a space, then a message to MRAVE (67283) to report suspicious activity or a situation that doesn’t warrant the need for 911.

“You send a text with that number and a short message with OUPD,” said IT Officer Ken Kiley.

Kiley said the vendor-supported text messaging system has been around since 2007 and the current system is the second version.

Gordon described how important it is to send the message correctly.

“The space is important. Without it we won’t get it,” Gordon said.

The system that receives the text messages is a workstation found within the dispatch center that gets audio and visual of the text message, according to Gordon. When a text message is received an audio alert goes off and dispatchers are able to quickly read and respond to it.

Gordon said text messages come in spurts and range in subject.

“You can’t predict what’s going to happen,” Gordon said.

Gordon said one time the text messaging system proved useful on campus was when there was a suicidal student. The student was surrounded by a group of other students, and one of the group members sent a text to the OUPD in an attempt to get the suicidal student help without possibly upsetting them as a phone call to 911 might have done.

The text alert system has also led to some unlikely cases for the OUPD.

Kiley said that sometime in 2010 or 2011 a text came in to the midnight dispatch saying there was a hostage in a house. After further investigation, it turned out the text came in from Oakland, California and was meant for the police in the city of Oakland, California. OUPD dispatchers called the Oakland Police Department to alert them of the situation and the case was later solved.

Gordon said that the text messaging system should be used for any time a 911 call cannot be made.

Although it’s “still a relatively new idea,” Gordon said the system is “good for any agency” and that it has recently been mandated for dispatch centers to have a text messaging system.

These text messages are just as important as any phone call to the police, according to Gordon.

“We look at them just like 911,” Gordon said.

Kiley noted that voice calls are still the best method of contact.

“We prefer voice calls,” Kiley said. “We like to supplement 911 with it (text messages).”

For more information on text alerts contact OUPD at (248) 370-3331 or at [email protected]