New security coming to Penn campus

July 9, 2009 5:12:57 PM PDT
While students may not see the changes, they'll definitely hear them.

Thirteen new sirens are being installed on roofs across the University of Pennsylvania campus.

Since the shooting at Virgina Tech that killed over 30 people in April 2007, Penn's Public Safety department has been working on the most effective ways to alert students and faculty about an emergency.

Garrett Corneliusse, a prospective student, told Action News: "I definitely think that's a good idea. If there's a shooting or something more people won't go back to be victims."

But the alerts aren't reserved for crime. How about if there's a problem at a nearby refinery?

"If there was a release of toxic fumes we would want to make sure people aren't on Locust Walk," said Maureen Rush, Vice President, Public Safety of U. Penn said. "That's an example of when we would use that."

Testing begins next month for the system. But the familiar Westminster Chime will sound instead, so that students are not alarmed.

Whether it's a drill or the real thing, the call originates from headquarters. The text alerts students already get on their cell phones come from there, the sirens are just the next step. Later the announcements will hook into the public address systems in all the buildings on campus.

Mitch Yannik\Public Safety\\\\\\\\] "Prior to Virginia Tech. How did info get out?" asked Mitch Yannik of Penn's public safety department. "We used newspapers, e-mail, we used our own website. We're just expanding that."

After next month's tests, You'll hear the sirens the first Friday of every month starting in October, to make sure the system stays reliable.

Katherine Scott is the newest addition to our Action News team. Katherine comes to us from New York city, but she has local ties. Her family lives in Bucks county.

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