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Bomb threat investigation continues, MUPD follows leads

By Lana Pochiro, For The Miami Student

Miami University Police Department (MUPD) continues their investigation following last Friday's bomb threats against Hughes Hall.

Chief McCandless of MUPD was unable to disclose details of the case as the investigation remains open. However, he said three members of his team are explicitly working on leads.

McCandless said MUPD handles situations like the events on Friday largely on a case-by-case basis.

"Specifically with the bomb threats, I think they're standalone incidents," McCandless said. "I think that we take a look at them in terms of how the threat came in, and then we've got some resources that we tap into like the FBI. We have a really good relationship with the Cincinnati office."

McCandless emphasized the necessity of his office to be flexible in atypical cases like this one.

"We have a policy, but not everything fits in the same box," he said. "These things are pretty fluid; so many times you're making decisions on the fly."

Director of University News and Communication Claire Wagner echoed McCandless's sentiments. "We've got some plans in place about who we talk to and how we communicate, but every case is a little bit different," Wagner said.

Wagner oversees the university's emergency notification system. She said within the past year, all students' emails have been synced to the system's text alerts regardless of whether the student has registered their mobile number.

As Friday's incident unfolded, these email notifications provided students with necessary information.

Wagner also spoke about two task forces aiding Miami's efforts to prepare for and manage unexpected situations like Friday's events.

The Institutional Response Team and the Crisis Management Team plan precautionary and reactionary measures for numerous abnormal situations on campus. These task forces work each year to ensure the continued security and preparedness of the university.

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The Institutional Response Team meets monthly to monitor campus environment, while the Crisis Management Team holds an annual meeting as an entire unit, but often subgroups meet more frequently.

Each task force contains members from a wide variety of areas within Miami offices in order to ensure an inclusive and diverse perspective on issues.

Chief McCandless said his office works with many other units within Miami on a regular basis. The decision to close Hughes Hall after receiving the second threat on Friday arose from a discussion with several other offices.

"Based on the information we had, it was out of an over-abundance of caution that we were going to close the building," McCandless said.

McCandless and his team conducted a debriefing and assessment of the actions taken in regards to the Hughes Hall threats on Monday, he said.

"We talk about those things, and we don't do this in a vacuum," he said. "We also talk with the chairperson of the building, the building points of contact, [and ask] 'did we do something that we could have done better or differently?'"

Assessment and reflection plays a constant role in MUPD's procedures and actions.

Wagner emphasized this point in Miami's commitment to a secure, healthy environment.

"Safety is a primary concern for every person who works at Miami," Wagner said. "There's a big group of professionals working to make campus as safe as possible."

McCandless and his team certainly place utmost importance on sustained campus safety as they pursue a conclusion to the investigation.

"I think we have some good investigative leads that we need to exhaust," he said. "We certainly are looking for anyone in the community who knows [any information] to call us. It's an open investigation, and we are not by any stretch done with it."

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