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Presence of armed police officers on campus sparks worry and confusion

By Kristy Koehler, September 16 2019—

A man was reported to be walking around campus with a rifle this morning, prompting a police investigation and the presence of multiple armed officers on campus. 

The investigation concluded just before 10 a.m. when members of the Calgary Police Service approached a Clubs Week table in MacHall and removed what appeared to be a papier-mâché rifle.

The presence of armed officers on campus, guns clearly displayed, sparked confusion and worry from some students in MacHall.

“People in the area were concerned about it,” said David McHugh, a student who witnessed the presence of the officers. “It’s not really something you see that often.”

The incident also raised questions on Twitter about why the Emergency Alerts were not used. Students and staff commented that the lack of communication was concerning. One user shared a screenshot of their emergency app — which showed no notifications — and wrote:

“Here’s a screenshot of all the notifications we received in our campus emergency app…”

Another user wrote:

“Can someone please explain to me why I found out about this via the news and not the app specifically designed for these circumstances?”

CTV Calgary tweeted out that they received confirmation from CPS that the main campus was under lockdown, a statement that was not further explained in their article, prompting further confusion from staff and students when no information about the alleged “lockdown” was transmitted, either by CPS’s official channels or the University of Calgary’s official channels.

The UC Emergency app is supposed to deliver alerts and updates in the event of an emergency situation. Twitter users reported getting a popup notification after the fact, indicating that the investigation had been concluded.

There are now more questions than answers about the role media plays in such a situation and about the university’s actual policies for communicating emergencies to staff and students. 


Dru Marshall, provost and vice-president academic, sent out an email just before 4:00 p.m., updating students on the incident and the university’s response:

“Both Campus Security and Calgary Police Services sent out notifications regarding the incident through social media,” read the email. “Unfortunately, there were some technical issues in sending out notifications using some of our UCalgary communication channels, which we are investigating to correct immediately. The University of Calgary takes the importance of emergency communications very seriously, and we apologize for the lack of communication this morning due to technical difficulties. The safety and security of all of our campuses is of utmost importance to us.”

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