Va. shooting prompts Univ. policy review


Va. shooting prompts Univ. policy review


<b> Police trained, armed with special weapons, for crisis </b>

April 20, 2007
By Rahul Kanakia

A new Stanford committee will conduct an evaluation of its emergency protocols in the wake of Monday&#39;s shootings at Virginia Tech University. The protocol review, which will be led by Vice President for Business Affairs Randy Livingston, was announced in a statement concerning the massacre by President John Hennessy.

A University Department of Public Safety community service officer records the SLAC protest with a video camera and carries a camera with a telephoto lens to photograph activists.

"The terrible ordeal suffered there reminds us how precious life is and how important it is that we all redouble our efforts to prevent such tragedies in the future," Hennessy said. "At Stanford, we plan to review all of our emergency response protocols. The safety of the Stanford community will always be a top priority for us."

Police at Virginia Tech have drawn criticism for their decision not to lock down the campus after the initial shootings in West Ambler Johnson Hall, a dormitory.

Chris Cohendet, a deputy at the Department of Public Safety (DPS), said the police train for what he called "an active shooter situation." In such a case, officers would call together nearby agencies and attempt to control the situation.

"There&#39;s obviously a lot of things that go through your mind," he said. "You want to be sure the community is safe. But you&#39;ve got to figure things out. For instance, at [Virginia Tech, officers] received what they thought was a domestic dispute call earlier on. And within that time frame the police department [was] getting numerous calls with differing information. It&#39;s really hard for a police department to filter all of this information."

For these kinds of situations, Stanford&#39;s police cruisers carry a variety of weapons in addition to the standard issue handguns. They are also equipped with non-lethal weapons, such as tasers, as well as more powerful alternatives, including shotguns.

"Basically, if there&#39;s something going on where someone is going through buildings and shooting away, law enforcement has to grab teams together and react," Cohendet said. "We would have to engage the suspect, in this case."

Greg Boardman, vice provost for student affairs, said the University would take Monday&#39;s incident into account while reviewing its policies for students with mental health issues. The Virginia Tech shooter, Cho Seung-Hui, had previously been committed to a psychiatric facility by the Blacksburg, Va. university but was released when two female students he had harassed decided not to press charges against him.

"In recognition of the increasing prevalence and complexity of student mental health issues both nationally and here at Stanford, we have been in the process of studying the University&#39;s policies and procedures as well as our campus climate through the work of the Mental Health and Well Being Task Force," he wrote in an email to The Daily. "Created in October 2006, the task force is composed of students, staff and faculty, and it has been meeting regularly since the fall in order to assess our current policies and determine where we can make improvements."

Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs Roger Printup was unsure what changes would come from these initiatives.

"I am sure that not only Stanford but every college and university will be considering what this event means for a large number of issues," he wrote in an email to The Daily. "Campus security and mental health [are] the two most obvious issues. But it is way too early to speculate on what specific actions might be taken before institutions have an opportunity to examine those issues thoughtfully and in depth."

Betts Gorsky, who was on campus for Admit Weekend and whose daughter will attend Stanford next year, said that the shootings did not change her view of campus security.

"I think that it&#39;s very difficult for any school to protect against random acts of violence like that," she said. "Maybe it will make individuals a little more observant and willing to react if they see or hear something from a student that seems out of the ordinary or depressed. But it&#39;s always easy to have 20/20 hindsight."


Original Source: <a href=""> Stanford Daily, April 20, 2007 </a>


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Rahul Kanakia, “Va. shooting prompts Univ. policy review,” The April 16 Archive, accessed May 19, 2024,