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UNC Charlotte Pledges Security Review After Campus Shooting

May 07, 2019 3:11 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

Reposted from Education Dive

Dive Brief:

  • The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where two students were killed and four were injured in a campus shooting last week, announced plans to seek an independent external review of its response to the incident, according to The News & Observer.
  • Chancellor Philip Dubois said in a statement that the campus lockdown procedure went into effect as intended immediately after law enforcement officials were notified, and he lauded first responders for their bravery.
  • A former student has been charged in the shooting. One of the students killed, 21-year-old Riley Howell, was heralded for tackling the shooter, preventing further injuries, according to local police.

Dive Insight:

More than 430 people were shot in 190 shootings on college campuses between the 2001-2002 and 2015-2016 school years, with the annual rate of such incidents rising from 12 to 30 during that time, according to a 2016 report from the Citizens Crime Commission (CCC) of New York City.

The growing frequency of gun violence on campuses has pushed colleges to change how they engage with students, staff and faculty members on the topic of campus safety. Their approach — educating the campus community on the need to "Run, Hide or Fight," and how — reflects guidance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on preparedness for and responses to an active shooter situation.

Colleges are also enhancing their security systems. Those improvements include emergency phones placed throughout campus and fitted with 360-degree security cameras, multiple-platform communication systems to enable authorities to alert the campus quickly and specialized training for campus security personnel.

Support for mental health on campus is also a critical factor. Campus security experts say institutions should create an environment in which students feel comfortable seeking mental health care as well as securely and privately reporting concerns about their peers. Additionally, mental health counselors should be trained to identify potential risk factors.

Brett Sokolow, head of a risk-management consulting firm and founder of the National Behavioral Intervention Team Association (NaBITA), explained in a recent article that his group hopes colleges will avoid "knee-jerk responses" to these events focusing only on "services, contractors, devices, gadgets and gizmos assuring they can protect us." He noted that among his firm's clients, spending on security improvements outpaces by 25-to-1 their investment in campus mental health and behavioral intervention.

Well-prepared behavioral intervention teams and adequately staffed mental health services are the most effective interventions, he wrote, along with a reporting system that can protect privacy, avoid profiling and accurately alert institutions to threats. NaBITA last year released detailed guidance on establishing such teams.

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