- Associated Press - Saturday, October 10, 2015

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Both the University of Vermont and the state college system regularly train to respond to shooters on their campuses and other emergencies, but both institutions say they also work to identify troubled individuals so they can receive the services they need before resorting to violence.

At UVM there are posters across campus with advice on how to react to various emergencies, including an active shooter. The campus police department has videos on its website, including one called “Shots Fired.”

UVM has its own police department and an emergency operation group that meets monthly to review the security systems and plans. The school regularly tests its emergency communication system and encourages all students to sign up for special alerts.

The university regularly holds active shooter drills, both full-scale events that will include police wearing body armor as well as table-top exercises, said Annie Stevens, the vice provost for student affairs.

Minor incidents have also had the opportunity for real world tests, but nothing as serious as a campus shooter.

“Fortunately or unfortunately we’ve had more minor incidents on campus that have allowed us in very real ways to respond,” Stevens said. Some of those problems have included problems with heating systems, minor fires and unusual packages - events that still require a security response.

Both UVM and the state colleges also have systems to try to identify students who could be in emotional distress, said officials at both institutions.

Dr. Jan Carney, the vice president of the faculty senate at UVM and a former Vermont health commissioner, said she had confidence in the system the school has set up to respond to actual emergencies and officials are responsive to concerns.

“If there are concerns either today, tomorrow or in the future, that faculty has avenues and would (be able to) express concerns,” Carney said.

There are five schools within the Vermont State College system, Castleton University, Johnson and Lyndon state colleges, Vermont Technical College’s - which has locations in Randolph and Williston - and the Community College of Vermont’s 12 locations across the state.

While those schools don’t have their own campus police departments, they do have public safety departments, said William Reedy, the general counsel for the state college system.

“They’ve worked very well with the local police forces to be prepared for this and other kinds of emergencies,” said Reedy.

The schools in the state college system each have their own security procedures, but in the aftermath of recent school shootings - most notably the shooting that killed nine victims at an Oregon community college - officials are considering whether to create a system-wide policy, said Reedy.

“They are very different colleges in very different locations and we’re not sure a one-size-fits-all policy makes sense,” Reedy said. “It may make some sense to have some kind of overall general policy or guidelines for the colleges to make sure that there are proper teams and they are properly functioning.”

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