UAPD ready for anything in tragedy's wake

“As Virginia Tech administration defends itself against accusations of being under-prepared, the University of Akron is taking additional steps to ensure student safety. Tuesday morning, in the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy, the UA safety division examined current safety procedures, police chief Paul Callahan said.”

As Virginia Tech administration defends itself against accusations of being under-prepared, the University of Akron is taking additional steps to ensure student safety.

Tuesday morning, in the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy, the UA safety division examined current safety procedures, police chief Paul Callahan said.

We looked at all of our current policies designed to respond to this kind of situation and compared it to the Virginia Tech story, asking ourselves, ‘Are we doing the right thing? Is this the right training?’ Callahan said. We made a few revisions and I’m sure departments all over the country are doing the same thing as this story continues to unfold.

In order to maintain maximum security, details of the university’s emergency plans are kept confidential, Callahan said. He stated that faculty and staff members have received proper training. In the case of an emergency, administrators are equipped with the ability to send a mass call to every phone on campus and each building is staffed with personnel trained for a lockdown.

The Akron community has reacted with expressions of support for Virginia Tech victims and survivors. Others have expressed concern.

UAPD received between half a dozen and a dozen calls Tuesday morning from worried parents, Callahan said. Safety staff did everything they could to qualm their fears.

We always reassure them that we’re trained to handle the situation, Callahan said. Can we totally prevent this type of tragedy? Maybe if we lined the campus with electric fence and razor wire we can, but otherwise, no. All we can do is put every effort into making sure students are as safe as possible.

That’s something we do 24 hours a day.

Callahan wants to urge students not to be too fearful of copycat attacks.

We have to be aware of that possibility, though, he said. This is a rare situation, but we must be prepared for it. Right now, we’re taking extra concern and asking people to be on the lookout.

What we really need is help from the students. They are the eyes and ears of our department. I have 35 men on staff, but it sure helps to have 24,000 people looking for something suspicious.

Despite the work put into examining emergency protocol, the university hasn’t made any major adjustments.

Things haven’t changed that much, Callahan said. The same general safety guidelines apply today as they did last week. An important one for this type of situation is, if you see somebody displaying threatening behavior or if you know someone who has been acting a little off, you need to notify somebody and get that person help.

In response to public criticism of Virginia Tech administration, Callahan tried to put things in perspective.

I don’t think it’s fair to be critical of Virginia Tech staff at this point – especially when the story isn’t all available yet, he said. As it turns out, if there were some deficiencies in their plans, I’m sure Virginia Tech will stand up and take responsibility.

It’s unfair to start making those accusations right now, though. When you have a scenario like the one they had at the start of the day, I don’t think I would have anticipated more than 30 people being killed.


” #1.1362083:1658271772.jpg:DORM.jpg:Virginia Tech freshman Emily Canis sits on the drill field across from Norris Hall on Monday.:TED RICHARDSON / MCT”