Securing a Campus, Part Two
May 23rd, 2011
Omaha, NE – The January shooting at Millard South High School in Omaha was over in five minutes. In 2007, the mass shooting at Von Maur at Omaha’s Westroads Mall was over in six minutes. But what would happen if an active shooter found his way onto the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s campus?
After receiving an emergency call, it takes campus security at UNO about three minutes on average to respond. It takes another five minutes for the Omaha Police to reach campus. That means, it could take up to eight minutes before armed officers made it to campus for an emergency call. Eight minutes is a long time.
In eight minutes, shooting victim Vicki Kaspar had already been fatally shot, and the shooter was miles away from Millard South. In eight minutes, eight people had been killed at Von Maur, and the shooter had already taken his life. So what would happen if there was an active shooter on campus at UNO?
Paul Kosel, the Manager of Campus Security at UNO said, “We’d just become eyes and ears for the Omaha police who’d be en route to campus. And once they got here, we’d go ahead and let them start to do what they can do to take and resolve the situation.”
Aaron Pembleton is the Education and Crime Prevention Officer at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Lincoln has sworn officers patrolling campus, whose average response time is two minutes. “The first officers that are gonna get there, they’re gonna try to go in and stop the situation as fast as they can,” said Pembleton.
The police officers on Lincoln’s campus go through active shooter training once a year which is specifically designed to deal with these situations, as well as training to properly handle a firearm, which all officers carry. UNO’s campus security training in different.
Pembleton said, “We also do training in a self defense method, called PPCT, pressure point control tactics. And that’s a thing that the officers can use to take and help and protect themselves or others if somebody is kind of violent or out of control.”
So why does UNL have campus police while UNO does not? Bill Conley, Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance at UNO, said an outside study was conducted for UNO in July 2008, and it recommended the University stay as a campus security system.
“They came in and really looked at the entire aspect of how we operate campus security,” he said, “and that study did again confirm, or recommend, that we stay as a campus security force rather than a police force for this campus.”
But Paul Kosel, the Manager of Security at UNO, recommended the exact opposite.
“Well, right now I would have to say that we’re probably not looking into doing something like that,” said Kosel. “Although, I do know that they’ve discussed that before within the University, and I’ve recommended that they do in fact have all police departments on all campus locations, but there’s a lot of things involved with just saying that, compared to actually carrying that out.”
There are many different factors to take into account when deciding whether to use campus security or campus police. Chris Blake is the Vice President of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.
“The institution has to weigh its needs,” he said, “the student population, where its located, the number of buildings, special events. A whole variety of factors really go into the decision as to whether you should have a sworn police agency, or some other configuration.”
Another factor is cost. Stan Schliefer is the Director of Support Services at UNO said, “Very, very roughly I’d say our budget right now for campus security personnel is about $1.4 million, and I think some rough estimates we got from the consultant group that came in said that budget would almost double.”
In times of budget cuts and crunches, it looks doubtful the University will make a move to campus police anytime soon.