CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - All colleges in the Nevada System of Higher Education have plans for dealing with dangers such as active shooters as required by federal law.
But each campus has leeway on the specifics of those plans and the level of security they provide.
Larger schools such as the University of Nevada, Reno have full police forces, while smaller schools such as Western Nevada College in Carson City rely on services from the sheriff’s office.
UNR Police Chief Adam Garcia said his department conducted an active shooter drill earlier this year and periodically tests its multi-pronged emergency alert system, which includes text messages, emails and computer monitor banners. The police services website links to a video with tips on how to respond to an active shooter: escape if you can, hide if you must, and fight back as a last resort.
The school also has a campus safety app that allows students to report crimes and activate a “virtual blue light,” which directs police to their location even if they can’t speak out loud.
Chancellor Dan Klaich said the state board of regents is encouraging other schools in the system to adapt the app to their campuses. But as with many other safety plan protocols, it isn’t dictated from the top down, and the system does not serve as a clearinghouse that approves the plans.
Jim Strange, a professor at Western Nevada College and state president of the Nevada Faculty Alliance, said he thinks that’s reasonable considering budget constraints and the differences between urban and rural campuses.
“Each institution has to decide what the best strategy is,” Strange said. “It would be very problematic to say everyone needs to have uniformed security. It can’t be passed down as an unfunded mandate.”
Even before a fatal mass shooting at an Oregon community college early this month, Nevada students and faculty had school shootings on their minds.
Caden Fabbi, president of the Nevada Student Alliance and the UNR student body, said the topic came up when Nevada lawmakers considered a bill this spring to allow concealed carry permit holders to bring their guns on campus. The college community debated whether armed students and faculty would help or hurt if a school shooter came to campus.
The students and the faculty alliance ultimately sided against guns on campus, as did the Legislature, although the decision was far from unanimous.
“It is the majority position that guns should not be allowed,” Strange said about his faculty group. “But there’s a significant minority that feels the other way.”
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