New security upgrades implemented at Purdue after January shooting

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By: Marisela Burgos

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind (August 25, 2014)-- Purdue University students will notice a number of security upgrades after a student was murdered on campus in January.

Cody Cousins admitted he murdered Andrew Boldt in an electrical engineering classroom on January 21. Immediately after that incident, students and parents voiced their concerns about confusion on campus that day. A security feedback panel was formed to review the incident as well as listen to input.

Colton Martin is a sophomore now. He was on campus when Boldt was killed.

“It was kind of scary to know after it happened, but of course we didn’t and no one really knew what was going on at the time. The campus is large enough I didn’t feel in danger being on the other side of the campus, but it was a reality check to know that can happen,” Martin said.

Another student, who was near the electrical engineering building, said many students talked about how confused they were about what to do.

“At that time, class was letting out so (there was) confusion on whether to leave or not and I know a couple of us got out of class,” said Harrison Massonne, a Purdue junior.

Seven months after the tragedy, Purdue University implemented new security measures. It is part of their Secure Purdue Alert System. Students will notice those changes Monday, the first day of the fall semester.

“We wanted them to see that we've done training. We listened. We listened to the concerns,” said Eric Dietz, director of the Purdue Homeland Security Institute.

Emergency alert beacons are being installed in 27 classrooms and you will now be able to lock those classrooms from the inside.

“Essentially what we've done is we've picked the classrooms that have more than 100 capacity or higher and we’re doing the upgrades with those first,” Dietz said.

Dietz said they will look at whether those security upgrades will be appropriate for other classrooms and buildings at Purdue University.

“We’re treating this as a pilot project so that way we can make sure we are not doing things that are disruptive to classes and we do things that do have a great deal of positive impact,” Dietz said.

Dietz said they will review the pilot project throughout the year. He said they may implement more upgrades in the future or make necessary changes. He said in the next couple of days the university will implement pop up alerts. If there is an emergency, students and faculty will see pop up alerts on most computers in every classroom.

“We’re also doing things that have a more long-term focus, looking at how we put policies in place so that normal classroom rehabilitation modifies the standards of the classroom so we can do this as quickly as we can,” Dietz said.

Dietz said students and faculty have participated in training sessions as a result of the tragic incident. Dietz said safety is their number one priority.

“This is an incredibly safe campus. Unfortunately, we have an event from time to time, but all in all-–compared to a lot of college campuses--Purdue is an incredibly safe place,” Dietz said.

Students said they still feel safe on campus.

“It’s good to know they were willing to react to the situation and made positive changes when the situation called for it,” Martin said.

The university had already added an additional Twitter account to provide students, staff, and parents with information about emergencies as it is happening on campus. The account is @purdueemergency.

Cousins plead guilty on Thursday to murder. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 19.

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