CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Following the recent deadly shootings at an Oregon community college, the head of the faculty senate at West Virginia University said he wasn’t well informed about his own university’s emergency response plans.
Chairman Richard Turton acknowledged he didn’t know exactly what the plans were. So he decided to take a look.
“I was aware that we had resources,” Turton said. “I would suspect many faculty who are very busy would tend to not look at those things unless they’re sort of prompted several times.”
Every college in the state is required to have detailed security and emergency response plans under the federal Clery Act.
WVU’s response plans are posted on its website, where Turton found a PowerPoint presentation and training videos.
Turton hopes to bring up the topic on the tutorials at a future faculty senate meeting.
“It will be a good thing to get as many faculty and staff to look at these as possible,” he said.
The WVU police department’s emergency planning unit leads the university’s preparedness efforts. WVU’s response plans are reviewed every year. Among the threats addressed are active shooters, hostage takings, snipers, suicide-homicide bombers, and terrorist threats. Campus notifications are made through text messages, emails, message boards, a website and an internal staff contact list.
Last year, WVU joined a safety campaign adopted by the federal Department of Homeland Security after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The “If you see something, say something” campaign urges anyone who sees something suspicious to call a toll-free line monitored by the West Virginia Intelligence Fusion Center.
Earlier this year, more than 140 representatives of West Virginia two- and four-year colleges attended a safety meeting hosted by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, which requires campuses to have an active shooter security plan among its safety procedures. The Community and Technical College System, which oversees two-year colleges, has a similar requirement.
The procedures were created to improve communication among campuses, the HEPC, state leaders and emergency management officials, said HEPC spokeswoman Jessica Tice.
The HEPC doesn’t have the authority to mandate measures such as hiring armed guards or installing security equipment, leaving that to university administrators.
“We do, however, work to provide best practices and awareness programs so that schools might adopt sound policy through their boards,” Tice said. “Our reviews of their safety and security plans help to bring attention to potential weaknesses or opportunities to improve.”
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