Security discussions arise after shootings

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Security discussions arise after shootings

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By Joel Runck
Statesman Staff Reporter

In light of the massacre at Virginia Tech on April 16, security protocols are being reevaluated and modified at campuses nationwide.

UMD is also devising and implementing measures to improve security and emergency response.

"I would say that the most effective means of notification that we have—and we've just installed this in the last six months— is our tone-alert radios," said Greg Fox, UMD vice chancellor of finance and operations. "Most frequently they would be used for weather emergencies, but they are also available for live-time communication for other emergencies as well."

With 60 such radios distributed across major departments at UMD, locations in possession of tone-alert radios can correspond with agencies such as law enforcement and the National Weather Service during specific types of emergencies.

"It's kind of the same philosophy as the old weather radios," said Joe Michela, director of UMD Auxiliary Services. "Now we have them around campus, but we have own antenna and receiver ... so that's how we get the message out to warn (people)."

Michela said that during a gunman-at-large scenario, the radios would be used to notify campus police who would then notify Duluth police departments across the city. The most recent use of these radios other than monthly testing, occurred during the snowstorm closing in March.

Currently, UMD has 10 licensed police officers on payroll and after massacre at Virginia Tech occurred, that same night, two officers were stationed throughout residence halls, according to Fox. In addition to police presence, Fox said that UMD has more than 100 surveillance cameras, which are primarily located in residence hall parking lots.

Furthermore, Fox speculates that UMD will be receiving $300,000 from the U of M -Twin Cities Central Security to install cameras that will monitor people entering and exiting residence hall buildings.

Other buildings under video surveillance include Swenson Science, the Sports and Health Center and the library.

While deterrence is one measure, communicating during an emergency situation is quite another.

On the day of the massacre at Virginia Tech, two individuals were gunned-down in a dormitory around 7:15 a.m. More than two hours later, 30 more people were killed in classrooms at Norris Hall, about a half-mile away on Tech's campus, according to the Associated Press. Tech sent out the first e-mail warning in regard to the first shooting at approximately 9:36 a.m.

"E-mail was never intended to be a form of emergency communication," said Susan Latto, director of UMD Public Relations.

On April 18, a bomb threat occurred at the U of M-Twin Cities campus, which resulted in the evacuations of several campus buildings. Latto, who has received training in emergency and crisis communication by both the State of Minnesota and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said that UMD strives to have efficient response systems in place

"It's like buying car insurance," Latto said. "You always hope that you will never get in an accident just because you have insurance."

Certain students have not changed their behavior patterns since the Virginia Tech incident and feel a strong presence of security on-campus.

"I spend most of my time in the Swenson building in the research wing," said fifth-year student Nate Bruender. "To get back there, you have to go through an alarm door with this video camera, so for me, it's not much of a worry."

Other students echoed Bruender's response and feel secure at UMD.

"I feel like the campus is pretty close-knit and so I don't have to go outside a lot," said freshman Grace Johnson. "I feel pretty safe in that way because a lot of doors are locked—especially at night."

Both Fox and Latto said that students can do their part by reporting any suspicious behavior to authorities.

"Don't be nervous about calling 911," Fox said. "(Authorities) want that call if there is a reason that you think your safety is impaired."

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Original Source:<a href=http://www.d.umn.edu/statesman/headlines/security.html>The Statesman - April 26, 2007</a>

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Joel Runck

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The Statesman

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2007-08-24

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Sara AA Hood

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Statesman Editor-in-Chief Desk - Suraj Rambhia <eic@sbstatesman.org>

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eng

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Joel Runck, "Security discussions arise after shootings," in The April 16 Archive, Item #1229, http://www.april16archive.org/items/show/1229 (accessed September 17, 2014).