College Shooting Shows U.S. Schools Still Vulnerable

The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) says the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech are a sharp reminder that every college and university is vulnerable to violence.

NCPC recommends that all higher education campuses continually update and rehearse emergency plans and emphasize a campus community-wide crime prevention strategy so that they combine prevention with preparedness and educate and involve all key actors.
“Our hearts go out to the victims, their families, and all those touched by this tragic event,” said Alfonso E. Lenhardt, president and CEO at NCPC. "This situation shows that every institution of higher learning is vulnerable to the most devastating violence plaguing society. It is incumbent upon leaders to work for prevention but plan for all potential violent situations.”

NCPC, the prevention organization best known for its icon McGruff the Crime Dog, says each campus must both work to prevent and plan to handle events no one hopes will ever materialize. The organization offers some key prevention and preparedness strategies.

  • Recognize that the entire campus community - students, faculty, staff, local emergency and law enforcement personnel, and neighboring areas - must be involved in prevention.
  • Be prepared for crisis situations. Develop and practice contingency plans based on a variety of possible emergencies. Include student and faculty leaders who can help coordinate immediate responses.
  • Develop mechanisms for communicating regularly (as well as in emergencies) with law enforcement, faculty, staff, students, parents and the community on prevention strategies and preparedness and response plans.
  • Discuss school safety and security activities and plans with parents and students during school orientation. Provide reminders through the communications network to update staff, faculty, returning students and others. Consider periodic open forums to answer questions or clarify procedures.
  • Bring together the campus safety team, which should include campus and community safety and security personnel, faculty, staff, students, and parents to review, update, and strengthen prevention and preparedness plans.
  • Use crime analysis and crime mapping tools to help identify crime trends and issues on campus, along with incident analysis to help refine and improve prevention and response strategies.

Through its partnership with International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA), which is supported by the Bureau of Justice Assistance and by ADT Security Services, NCPC can assess prevention opportunities and crime vulnerabilities on college campuses, and ADT offers such services as well. The partners currently are currently piloting a campus crime prevention curriculum that brings prevention and preparedness best practices to campus communities nationwide. As part of the course pilot, four sites were selected (Duke University; Columbus (Ohio) State Community College; University of Texas Health Sciences Center (San Antonio); and California State University at Northridge) to host the 3-day classes for up to t35 participants each. Schools from the areas surrounding the host colleges are sending participants to the trainings. The pilot training has 150 scheduled participants from 110 colleges and universities. More training will be scheduled.

For more information on crime prevention issues, visit http://www.ncpc.org.

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