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How Emory responds to emergencies on our campuses
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The Emory Police Department (EPD) is committed to keeping our community safe. During campus emergencies, EPD and the Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR) play leadership roles in mitigating potential, emerging and active threats while communicating critical information about such threats to the Emory community.

The following Q&A addresses frequent questions EPD receives regarding how the department responds to reported threats and other concerns.

What is EPD’s protocol when someone reports a safety threat on Emory’s campuses?

Any time someone reports an issue or concern within our jurisdiction, EPD officers immediately investigate for potential threats and/or any danger to our community. If circumstances warrant communicating emergency information with our community, EPD initiates Emory’s emergency notification protocol, which involves notifying the community about the incident, affected locations and any relevant instructions/directions for community members to follow.

EPD then coordinates with CEPAR to provide public safety messages, if appropriate, using Emory’s emergency notification system. Information is shared through email, text alerts, the LiveSafe app, posts on social media and

Based on the facts of each situation, CEPAR works with university leaders to establish the most effective approach to informing our campus community about the nature of each report and potential threat. Emory balances providing accurate and actionable information without initiating unnecessary concern or compromising a potential criminal investigation while EPD officers investigate the situation.

How are other law enforcement agencies involved?

Depending on the circumstances, EPD will request assistance from local law enforcement agencies, including the Atlanta Police Department, the DeKalb County Police Department, the Newton County Sheriff’s Department, Oxford Police and Georgia State Patrol.

Are guns allowed on our campuses?

While Georgia laws permit individuals to carry a firearm either openly or concealed, Emory University policy prohibits weapons, including firearms, on any of our campuses by anyone other than authorized personnel. Occasionally, this can present a challenge for community members or visitors who may be abiding by state law but are otherwise unaware of campus policy. We rely on strong community partnerships and the cooperation and understanding of everyone to help enforce our weapons policies.

When EPD is notified that someone has a weapon or firearm, officers respond and conduct an investigation. Any next steps depend on the circumstances of each individual situation.

As with any incident on our campuses, if you see something, say something. Please contact EPD 24/7 (404-727-6111) to report any issue or concern. We will investigate each report and work with campus partners to communicate as necessary. Alerts to avoid the campus, particular buildings or areas, or “shelter in place” messages are intended to keep our community safe as we investigate the situation and address concerns. Each situation is unique, and we work to resolve issues as quickly as possible. Please see below for additional information about a “shelter in place” direction.

What happens when multiple agencies respond to an incident on one of our campuses?

Law enforcement agencies follow a standard protocol that includes designating an incident commander at the scene who will assign duties and responsibilities as appropriate. Depending on the incident, officers will conduct interviews, search buildings, review surveillance footage and take additional steps to determine whether there is an existing or ongoing threat to the community.

During such situations, EPD remains in communication with CEPAR, which issues public safety alerts throughout the incident as necessary with the highest priority placed on keeping our community as safe as possible.

Once the incident commander has determined that any potential threat has been mitigated, CEPAR issues an “all clear” notice. An “all clear” notice indicates that the safety and security concern has been addressed and the community can then resume normal operations.

What do emergency alerts such as “shelter in place” mean?

Depending on the facts of a situation, the Emory emergency notification system includes several alerts and/or directions that we ask individuals to follow while an investigation and/or emergency response is in progress. These include: 

  • Shelter in Place
    “Shelter in place” means to find a safe, indoor, windowless location and to stay there until instructed otherwise. This alert can be issued in several scenarios, including a law enforcement emergency or a chemical hazard.
  • Active Shooter
    An “Active Shooter Alert” is issued in extreme circumstances where an immediate threat to the safety of our community exists. An “active shooter” is an individual or individuals who are actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. If an “Active Shooter Alert” is issued, individuals should take immediate steps to protect their own lives, including:

    • Run if a safe path is available. Always try and escape or evacuate even if others insist on staying. Don't linger to gather belongings. Encourage others to leave with you, but don't let their indecision slow down your own escape. Once out of immediate danger, try to prevent others from unknowingly walking into the danger zone and call 911. 
    • Hide if you can't escape safely; find a place to hide outside the assailant’s view. If you can't find a safe room or closet, hide behind large objects that offer protection. Seek a hiding place that doesn't restrict your options to move. Try to remain quiet and calm. When hiding, turn out lights, lock doors and silence the ringer and vibration mode on cell phones. If a door doesn't lock, attempt to block it with furniture or other large objects.
    • Fight as a last resort if your life is at risk. Working together or alone, act with aggression. Use improvised weapons — a fire extinguisher or chair, for example.
  • All Clear
    “All clear” means the community is safe to resume normal operations after an emergency.

What happens if I’m “sheltering in place” and a police officer is at my door?

Once you have made contact with a police officer, please follow their directions. They may tell you to evacuate, or to stay in place, depending on the facts of the situation. Officers that you come into contact with have the most current information about a threat situation and their orders should be followed, regardless of other information you may have previously received. While such situations can be extremely stressful, they are critical to ensuring your safety.

Does “all clear” mean you have arrested someone? 

CEPAR sends an “all clear” notice when the community is safe to resume normal operations. In some cases, EPD’s investigation determines a situation no longer presents a threat. Investigations into the incident may continue after you receive an “all clear” message. Our emergency protocols may be implemented to ensure your safety even when no crime has been committed, and a concern or potential threat does not always lead to an arrest.

What proactive measures does EPD take to keep us safe?

In addition to our primary role as public safety officers for the Emory community, EPD regularly monitors for potential threats and coordinates with other law enforcement organizations to stay current on preventative measures.

Throughout the year, we also offer training to resident assistants and advisors, students, faculty and staff as part of our Outreach and Safety Programs. Additionally, CEPAR and EPD partner to provide Emergency Preparedness training upon request. If you’d like to schedule training, please visit the CEPAR website.

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