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Report for Aug. 28 shooting suggests campus planning, communication improvements

Photos courtesy of Unsplash

On Thursday afternoon, UNC released an after-action report, or AAR, analyzing events and recommendations for the University based on events occurring during and after the Aug. 28 fatal campus shooting.

As announced in December, the University hired an independent agency, the Center for Naval Analyses, to review the incident and response, providing future recommendations for safety and crisis management. The CNA has conducted various other after-action reviews in the past for events such as the U.S. Capitol Riot.

The executive summary of the AAR that was released on Thursday states that the agency conducted 31 interviews with over 70 individuals including University representatives, local public safety and emergency management members, students, faculty and staff.

Within the summary, it highlights six key themes to help the University prioritize and strengthen campus safety. These include preparedness and planning, public safety response and incidence management, emergency coordination and information sharing, public information and communications, campus counseling and behavioral health services and safety and risk management. 

The summary lays out the executive priorities and improvement planning that each step of the AAR recommends. 

Darrell Jeter, UNC’s director of Emergency Management and Planning, said that an AAR is a standard process every time a high-profile event or incident occurs.

“[It] allows us just to take a moment to reflect, to see the facts of what actually occurred and then to identify opportunities for us to improve those plans and our processes moving forward,” Jeter said.

With many of the report’s recommendations focusing on preparedness, planning and communication, Jeter said that Alert Carolina was one of the areas where the campus community provided valuable feedback, even before the formal review process.

“We want to remove any ambiguity in the messaging,” Jeter said. “Also understanding that you have other sources outside of the University that you’re hearing information from, so clarity of messaging is something that we’re going to be looking into.”

The CNA recommends UNC work to align the University’s Emergency Communications Plan with the Alert Carolina System Protocols in order to close gaps in frequency and clarity in current emergency messaging.

The report also recommends that students, staff and faculty participate in active assailant training. UNC Police Chief Brian James said that he recommended community members take advantage of the training programs that UNC Police offers, both in person and virtually.

"In a real-life situation, there's little time for instruction. There's only time for reaction. And the only way that you have an opportunity to react properly is through previous training and previous preparation," James said.  

Prior to Aug. 28, UNC Police offered active assailant training, but the number of attendees grew significantly after that day. James said that based on demand, 21 training sessions were held in the 2022-23 academic year. Since the shooting, UNC Police have held 93 sessions, equaling over 2,800 attendees. 

Jeter and James both said the University had been working to fulfill goals of increasing camera surveillance and security through effectively-locking doors in high traffic areas predating the shooting incident, but is now emphasizing that work. James said that increasing camera coverage is an effective way to better secure cameras and act as a deterrent to crime. Jeter said it “[allows] for better real-time situational awareness to help inform decision-making.”

Jeter also said that he was appreciative to everyone involved in the process of developing the after-action report, saying that it was a product of collective effort.

“This review process, while it is a standard process that organizations take, it is just the beginning,” Jeter said. “It is an independent review of our response based off of the facts that were provided to the contractor, but this is not the end of that process, and so what we as a University will do at this point in our commitment to the safety and wellbeing of our campus community is [develop] an improvement plan.”

In an email to the UNC student body Thursday afternoon, George Battle, vice chancellor for Institutional Integrity and Risk Management, shared the most recent updates from the AAR, stating that improvements are being completed in phases that will take place over the next six months to three years. 

"We are committed to addressing identified gaps and strengthening security for everyone who ventures to Carolina, whether it be to study, work or visit," he wrote in his email. "We will continue to work together to make this the strongest and safest Carolina possible."


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