Threat in bathroom lead to first usage of OUPD text messaging alert system

By Sean Garner

Campus Editor

The Oakland University Police Department was notified of a threatening statement written on a bathroom wall in South Foundation Hall on Oct. 1.

OUPD responded to the threat by sending a text message alert warning to students and faculty of the threat. It was the first non-test alert sent since the program was implemented this summer.

OUPD Chief Sam Lucido said the threat was “very vague,” and there is no apparent reason for students to be overly concerned. He said the text alert was simply an attempt by OUPD to be more proactive with threats than they may have been in the past.

“In keeping with our more refined way of doing things when these kinds of issues come up, we’re going to better err on the side of safety and security,” Lucido said. “It is also part of our new and continued effort to keep our community informed.”

OUPD Lieutenant Mel Gilroy said the threat was brought to the police’s attention by a student who reported the threat by phone. OUPD then dispatched police officers to the building where the threat was made.

It was not long before the text alert was sent out to those who signed up for the alert system.

“The whole thing was handled within minutes,” Gilroy said. “Once our officers arrived they determined the nature and seriousness of the threat, and then we decided to alert the community. It was all done very quickly.”

Lucido maintained that the threats are in no apparent way connected to the threat that caused OU to close campus for two days in April.

Former student Tory Dantuma later made a similar threat to the one that closed OU, pled guilty to a misdemeanor.

According to Lucido, there was no serious consideration given to closing the campus or canceling classes once again.

“Just a few years ago, with something like this, we probably wouldn’t have made an announcement,” Lucido said. “University campuses across the country are now much more open in terms of providing information to the campus community even if the information is limited like it was [Wednesday].”

In keeping with standard operating procedure, OUPD did not initially release specific details about the most recent case such as the exact location of the threat or its exact language.

Gilroy said OUPD do not release this type of information until charges are filed, and the same procedure was followed in the Dantuma case.

Lucido also said they currently have no suspects or leads.   

“When it goes to the court and becomes part of a public process, that’s when we release more of that type on information.”

Gilroy said that in the future, alerting students and faculty in a similarly urgent manner to the text message will not only be a priority, it will be a necessity.

“We’ve gotten to the point where releasing information to the campus community as soon as we can is pretty much mandatory,” Gilroy said. “There are laws in place that pretty much require us to get this information out to the students whenever a threat like this is made, even if it is not all that serious.”