Sent: April 16, 2021
Dear Auraria Campus Community,
Last week we sent a memo detailing the events of April 6, when a man stabbed a victim on an RTD light rail train near campus. Believing there was potential for a larger-scale active harmer situation based on the initial witness reports, the Auraria Campus Police Department (ACPD) sent out an automated text message alert that read: “AURARIA CAMPUS lockdown! All entry doors are locked. Increase your awareness. Run, hide, or fight if appropriate. Additional info from police will follow ASAP.”
Over the past week, we have heard from many students, faculty, and staff who took that message seriously—running to safety, hiding in barricaded classrooms, and locking up their offices. We want to thank you for your continued partnership and commitment to safety. We must remain diligent with safety precautions because we don’t know when a more serious situation may occur.
We know many of you felt very unsettled as you waited for the next update from police and we acknowledge your valid criticism that 42 minutes was too long to receive the location and basic description of the incident. That second text message, which came at 5 p.m., read: “Auraria Campus Police & Denver Police continue to investigate a stabbing near 5th & Walnut. A suspect is in custody. Campus is re-open.”
The day after the incident, we told you that we would soon conduct an “after-action review” of all aspects of the incident and report back to you on any lessons learned and policy changes. We have held our initial meetings. And let us be clear on a key finding: the language and timeliness of the April 6 text alerts were inadequate. While the communications followed existing standard operating procedures, we fully recognize that the original text message caused undue stress and confusion. We know we can improve and pledge to do so in a timely manner.
There is more work ahead, but we are prepared today to share concrete steps we’ll take to provide you with actionable and timely communications during emergencies.
We also want our campus community to be informed about the actions they should consider during an emergency. ACPD and the CU Anschutz Police Department earlier this week held a virtual Active Harmer Response training. ACPD will host similar in-person training sessions April 28 and May 13 and we encourage you to sign up.
Our revised emergency communications practices mark starting points for improving the way we keep you informed during times of crisis. ACPD, as well as emergency managers and communicators from our institutions, will continue to deploy best practices and train for these situations. We owe that to you, so you can make informed decisions for your safety. We are grateful that the April 6 case turned out to be an isolated incident and no students, faculty, or staff were physically harmed. With that said, we acknowledge the emotional toll that the messaging had on members of our community. We know that we need to rebuild your trust. Safety is of the utmost importance, and together, we will do better.
Michelle Marks, Ph.D., Chancellor
University of Colorado Denver
Marielena DeSanctis, Ph.D., President
Community College of Denver
Janine Davidson, Ph.D., President
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Colleen Walker, Chief Executive Officer
Auraria Higher Education Center