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It was the minute that transformed a tragedy into a triumph. A little more than 60 seconds separated two carjackers crashing their vehicle into the barrier on 40th and Locust streets, their apprehension by the Penn police, the shootout and the situation’s resolution. Behind that minute lay sophisticated technology, complex logistics and years and years of training. It all worked flawlessly.

And that’s where the trouble started. The trouble was trust.

Given the Division of Public Safety’s superlative performance, “the accolades,” Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said, “should have come flooding in.” Indeed, in almost all quarters, they did. The law enforcement community, she said with a glint of pride, was “in awe.” As it should be. Penn’s DPS is, to the experts, the envy of the security world — that’s why it was the number-one college public safety division in this year’s Security magazine’s Top 500 rankings.

But the next day, many students and parents were less thankful for the resolution of the situation and more upset about the absence of an UPennAlert — an alert was only sent roughly an hour after a shooting, and then only by e-mail. “Penn’s response, no matter how well-intentioned, is absolutely unacceptable. Students needed information, and all we had were rumors on Facebook,” College senior and Undergraduate Assembly Representative Grant Dubler declared on Facebook at the time, and many other students agreed with him. Never mind that DPS had neutralized the threat in one minute. It seems now our police officers must not only fight crime but tweet about it at the same time (with perfect accuracy, mind!).

There is a fascinating contradiction implicit in the condemnation surrounding UPennAlerts, and it’s about how much we trust DPS. On the one hand, we first and foremost trust DPS — not The Daily Pennsylvanian, not our house deans, not our friends — to give us accurate information about a crime in progress. On the other hand, we don’t trust DPS to neutralize that crime with such efficiency that an alert is unnecessary, nor do we at all trust DPS’s judgment of when an alert should be put out in the first place. And this lack of trust has everything to do with helplessness.

Consider the parents dissatisfied with DPS’s response. It’s understandable. The only thing worse in the eyes of a parent than sending your child far away from home is sending your child far away from home to a place where they might get killed. When you see the news of a shooting near where your children live, your heart leaps into your throat and it doesn’t go down until you know they’re safe. It’s the worst feeling in the world, and it’s only natural to go after the people who didn’t end that feeling sooner by sending a timely alert.

Likewise, if Penn undergraduates have anything in common, it is the desire to feel like they’re in control. We have BlackBerrys and meetings and lives — the course of which we’ll determine, thank you very much. How dare you, DPS, treat us like children and not give us information on demand! To hear gunshots and to not know what’s going on — that visceral feeling of things out of control, of things unknowable — is likewise one of the worst feelings in the world. No wonder some students were upset.

Yet DPS is “the subject matter expert in keeping people safe,” Rush said, and she’s right. DPS had the ability, on its own authority, to send an alert if there were an active danger (it could have turned on the sirens) and it didn’t because it wasn’t necessary. We were safe. And as helpless as it may make us feel, we should trust our police. Last Sunday demonstrated louder than any UPennAlert that they deserved it.

Alec Webley is a College senior from Melbourne, Australia. He is the former chairman of the Undergraduate Assembly. His e-mail address is Smart Alec appears on Thursdays.

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