The impact of mass shooting at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) on April 16, 2007 continues to be felt across the United States and internationally due to a massacre that killed 27 students and five faculty members. Following the weeks after the shooting, the university conducted several extensive reviews and analysis to better understand the attack and provide strategies to prevent future attacks in the university. In response to the tragedy at the Virginia Tech and other shooting tragedies across the colleges and universities in the United States, IACLEA (the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators) develops comprehensive recommendations that the colleges and universities should follow in enhancing safety and securities. (Thrower, Healy, Margolis, et al. 2008). Apart from the comprehensive safety procedures against shooting, the university authorities also have the obligations to protect the life and properties against event such as fire, natural disaster, and the categories such as burns, slips, animal attacks and accidents through work.
In response of the recommendations provided by IACLEA along the active shooting incidents across the school, Virginia Tech authorities have implemented several steps to update the school security devices to enhance the safety and security of the university community. With the support of the Department of Education, the Virginia Tech has developed new comprehensive models to enhance safety and overall well beings of both students and overall university community. (Randazzo. & Plummer, 2009).
Objective of this report is to analyze updated campus security measures implemented at Virginia Tech and ascertain the effectiveness of the updated security measures in the face of a potential security breach.
Overview of Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech occupies a sprawling, beautiful campus very close to Blue Ridge Mountains in southwest Virginia. Founded in 1872, the school is well-known for its engineering, architecture, agriculture and science programs .The University is also best known for its research excellence in the array of academic programs. The school main campus has approximately 131 major buildings spread across over 2,600 acres. However, anyone can walk or drive onto the campus since the campus is not enclosed making the school to be susceptible to security threats. Police department is the key element in the Virginia Tech security assisted with ERT (emergency response team) to enhance full fledge security measure in the campus. Despite the security measure put in place in the campus, there are still several security loopholes within the campus. Many places within the campus are considered as public places and are open for 24 hours. Many classrooms do not have locks and there are no guards at the campus building. There is also no camera at the hallways or the entrance of the building. Anybody can walk into any of the building in the university because Virginia Tech is an open university.
Update'd Security Measures at Virginia Tech
The passage of Clery Act in 1990 mandates colleges and universities to provide annual statistics of crimes within the university campus. Before April 16, 2007, the Virginia Tech had not experienced a major event that could jeopardize safety and security of the university community. The aftermath of the shootings at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007 makes the university to implement a focus to renew attention to enhance security and safety within the university. Beyond traditional measures to protect students and staff, the higher education in the United States must address the possibility of bomb threats, terrorist attack, as well as threat to physical violence.
In the light of mandated security measures that the universities across the United States must implement, the Virginia Tech updates its security measures to enhance safety and security within the campus. The following measures are put in place to safeguard safety and security measure of the university community.
Installation of Light Blue Safety Phone: Virginia Tech has installed 89 light blue safety phone spread across the university campus and all the safety phones are connected to the university 911 emergency operator. Moreover, the safety phones are connected directly to the Virginia Tech Policy and they are available 24 hours a day.
Moreover, Virginia Tech pathways and sidewalks are well lit for faculty, students and staff walking during the night and day. The lightning is routing checked to enhance their proper functioning. The school also provides a report for dispatchers to replace or repair bulb if needed. More importantly, the door alarms are put in place to alert police if an exterior door is opened. The smoke detectors are installed in all residence and fire drills are carried out once per semester in all halls of residence.
Additionally, the police department at Virginia Tech is considered as the key element for the safety and security in the university campus. While many campuses in the United States use only security guards, however, Virginia Tech uses police department to enforce safety and security in the campus. VTPD (Virginia Tech Police Department) is an accredited police force, and all officers are trained to combat the assault and emergence in the campus. The strength of VTPD was approximately 35 officers with 41 authorized positions. The VTDP has five officers for the day shift and nine officers are used for work at office between 8 a.m. And 5 p.m. Despite the number of police in the university, the strength of campus police could only handle minor events, and the strength of the university police department may not sufficient to handle major events. To address this shortcoming, the police department has entered into a mutual aid agreement with the BPD (Blacksburg Police Department) for immediate assistance and response. Thus, they frequently train together to address an unforeseeable event.
Virginia Tech Police Department also works closely with the Student Affairs Division to enhance student safety and security. The Virginia Tech Police also sponsors a program that operates from dust to dawn to assist students and staff with transportation or a walking escort upon request. Campus Watch Night Time Patrol also works at hall of residence from 10 p.m. To 6 a.m. The police also provide awareness bulleting on the daily report of crimes and warning through its website.
Virginia Tech also offers varieties of educational and safety program to inform students and staff about the importance of campus security and safety. The Virginia Tech has also improved its alert system technique to alert the school community in case of imminent danger. In many colleges and universities across the United States, information technologies are rapidly being used to send messages. Virginia Tech is installing campus-wide alerting systems to alert the school community in the event of imminent danger and Virginia Tech has installed six audible alerting devices.
As part of the strategy to enhance safety and security, the university authority also prohibits students, university employees, volunteer and visitors to carry firearms and weapons. Even if the individual has a valid permit to carry firearms, the university still makes a policy that such individual should not carry firearm within the university campus, and if an individual is found with firearm, the university will immediately ask the person to remove the arms. Failure to comply may lead to an arrest or refer the individual to employee disciplinary committee.
In accordance with the Higher education Act 1965 and Section 23-9.2:11 of the Code of Virginia, the Virginia Tech have implemented a comprehensive emergency communication system to deliver a prompt alert and warning notification to the university community. Typically, the university has employed varieties of communication systems which include cellular phone, alert lines; e-mail notices; phone, text messages; posters; classroom electronic message signs; university website notices; and other methods. Depending on a particular threat to the individual and university community, the university may also use the automated VT Alerts notification system to notify the campus community of the crimes and emergences that have occurred within the campus and the need for the immediate evacuation.
Employees and students have obligations to accurately report emergencies, risks and potential threats. Moreover, the Virginia Tech encourages the university community to report all crimes to the university police department and using 911 for emergencies. The crimes could also be reported online at www.police.vt.edu.
Additional update to safeguard safety and security within the university community is the new design of access control standard for facilities. The university has designed access and security control standard for the new and renovated building. Typically, the designed systems are reviewed to comply with the VTPD security requirements. The university mandates that entrance to residence floors must be locked at all times except buildings that house university offices. Moreover, residents of the buildings as well as their escorted guests shall utilize the card access system. The Campus Watch Security and resident advisors (RAs) also constantly make a walk around to ensure that exterior entrance are locked and secured.
Part of the strategy to enhance safety and security of the university community is the Fire and Life Safety Program implemented by the university. The university authority has introduced policies and procedures to prevent loss of life, reduce…