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UNCW Police say better safe than sorry with campus alerts

READ MORE: UNCW Police say better safe than sorry with campus alerts
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Alerts from UNCW Police are becoming common for students and staff.

A few weeks ago an armed gunman robbed two people at the Hardee's next to UNCW. Over the weekend another man was spotted with a gun near campus. Both events triggered the school's alert system. But does a false alarm limit the effectiveness of the alerts?

"I'm certainly aware that some students and some employees may also take that approach to it, but I would just encourage the other view: it's working," UNCW Police Chief David Donaldson said.

UNCW leaders say they know some of the university's students and faculty are disgruntled by recent alerts, especially after a reported gunman over the weekend turned out to be a man returning from a hunting trip.

The sense among students Monday, though, seemed to be much the opposite. A few students say they stayed indoors until campus police sent out an all clear message.

"I really don't feel like it should be perceived as a joke, because it's such a serious matter," UNCW junior Joshua Kraszeski said. "Dealing with things that can escalate so quickly like that I really think you should take the opportunity to take it seriously, and even if it is a false alarm like that turned out to be, at least your taking the safe precaution."

Donaldson says the man with the gun over the weekend contacted university police himself after receiving the emergency alert. After police went out to Carleton Drive and spoke with him, they lifted the alert.

Donaldson says despite the lack of a threat it was not a false alarm. Unlike the situation at East Carolina University last month, where a man with an umbrella sparked an alert, this man did have a gun.

"We've been very fortunate to have incidents that have occurred after business hours," Donaldson said. "The university is in a relaxed state there's not a structured class schedule. There's fewer people on campus, fewer traffic on campus, so that was in our favor saturday night."

In each case the schools erred on the side of caution. For many that is a relief rather than a hassle.

"I believe it is effective, even though we do get a lot of alerts lately," UNCW senior Amelia Driscoll said. "I would rather the police be safe than sorry, and I'm glad that we have these alerts."

Chief Donaldson says there will be no changes for how or when the campus police will use the alert system.

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