In response to the recent influx of school shootings, campuses across the nation are rolling out their Active Shooter Emergency Plans. Western held an Emergency Safety Town Hall meeting on Tuesday to inform students, parents and faculty about safety measures the university established to improve campus security.
Key speakers included campus police chief, Roger Conner; Director of Environmental and Facilities Services, Pano Koukopoulos; Director of Public Relations, Paul Steinmetz; and Director of Access Control and One Card Services, Deanna Cibery-Schaab.
Conner opened the meeting with a a video about active shooter preparedness. The video instructed students and faculty to be prepared, alert and ready to take action during an unlikely encounter with an active shooter. Students are advised to either find a place to hide, or fight back by throwing objects and ganging-up on the shooter.
Conner is part of the Threat Assessment team at Western. The team is headed by the Student Affairs office. Students and faculty are advised to report suspicious behavior to the team for further assessment.
According to Conner, threats made toward schools are classified as “terroristic threats,” part of the breach of the peace statute 53a-81, and can lead to a felony conviction with penalties of a year or more in prison and heavy fines.
The Public Relations office is responsible for sending out alerts during an emergency. Steinmetz stresses the importance of signing up for the emergency notification system, Everbridge. Notifications can be delivered in the form of a text, email or phone call. Alerts can warn students of emergencies such as blackouts, school closings, fire, active shooters and other crisis. According to Steinmetz, only 1/3 of students are signed up for Everbridge. The sign-up page is located in the links below.
Koukopoulos graced the stage with an energetic nudge to encourage students to prepare a go-bag in case of an emergency. Items suggested for the go-bag include clothes, shoes, snacks, water bottle, medications, first aid kit, mylar blanket, eye contacts, extra pair of eyeglasses, garbage bags, poncho, toilet paper, lighter, flashlight, multi-tool, duct tape, rope and anything else that will make life easier during an emergency.
WestConnect manages campus security systems including locks, card access and electronic security systems and camera surveillance. The office is responsible for locking or unlocking buildings, sending out alarms and collecting evidence of unauthorized activity.
According to Cibery-Schaab, the university is developing an outside emergency notification system with speakers that will either play a prerecorded message or a live message announced by staff.
Cibery-Schaab informed students of a blue safety lock on the back of classroom doors. In the event of an emergency, one must break the glass on the lock in order to lock the door, and notify police of an emergency. Instructions for breaking the lock are located in the “Facility Access Security” link below. An emergency response checklist is also located behind doors in classrooms and public areas.
For more information: