Campus safety still top priority

By Angelina Cole

Following last week’s tragedy at Virginia Tech, there has been a heightened concern on campus for the safety of the University’s students and faculty and questions about the protocol in an emergency situation.

Krystal Fitzpatrick, interim executive director of public safety and chief of campus police, said that the key to promoting public safety is early detection.

The University promotes this by training housing staff in recognizing distressed behaviors and giving them the resources to help their residents. Additionally, the University has assigned certain housing staff to early recognition and detection of these problems. In past years, a workshop addressing non-abusive and non-violent behavior in the workplace has been used to inform campus that these acts are not tolerated. This workshop had been considered for revival by the University Police even before the events in Blacksburg, Va.

“The intent is to inform people of campus policy and that these acts (of violence and abuse) are not tolerated and need to be reported to the police,” Fitzpatrick said.

“There are three stages of preventative efforts,” Tom Dempsey, director of the Police Training Institute said. “There is planning, not just for emergency situations, but planning for the preventative measures.”

The second stage of preventative measures requires the University to have public safety training available for employees.

Additionally, there must be agreement between the Champaign and Urbana city officials to simplify protocol.

The third stage is to consider different perspectives, such as a criminal justice perspective and a learning perspective. Finally, these stages come together so the police operate on the best information available to them.

The Police Training Institute, which trains most of the officers in Illinois, Dempsey said, includes 530 hours of basic skill training in their curriculum. Additionally, there is also specialized training for the officers on campus so when faced with a crisis situation, they can react as quickly and accurately as possible.

The campus police department also reviews past emergency responses and how they can be improved upon and updated.

For information on a University emergency text message system, pick up a copy of tomorrow’s Daily Illini.