A recent occurrence at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia showcased the effectiveness of the college's SMS service alert system.
A few weeks ago, both university and local police were searching for a suspect involved with a shooting that occurred earlier that evening. As the new school year was underway and thousands of new students in the area, police wanted to take extra precautions to protect them, according to local news outlet WCHS.
Police responded to reports of a large flight on Maple Avenue, only half a block from the school's campus. The incident quickly devolved, with one man opening fire.
Though the shots were fired into the air and no one was hit, the shooter fled the scene just as Marshall Police joined their Huntington counterparts.
With all the new students in the area, the situation could have gotten much worse, but Marshall's text alert system quickly notified those on campus of the situation.
"The text alert system is a very effective mechanism," Huntington Chief of Police Joe Ciccarelli told WCHS. "When you take young people who in many cases are out of their home for the first time and add alcohol… Nothing good comes of that."
While Ciccarelli said shootings in that area are rare, theft, alcohol and drug crimes are common.
The alerts are through the campus police department and are limited to these types of occurrences, according Marshall student Amanda Black. She told WCHS that the messages are sometimes "intense," but she likes staying informed.
"I still continue to get them," she said. "I want to make sure I know what's going on. … I'm always in the know so I know I can be safe."
According to WCHS, the shooter is still at large.