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Safety Issues on University Campuses[Part_1]

In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech massacre, universities around the country are looking at safety issues on their own campuses. In this installment of our Sense of Community series, KSMU's Missy Shelton talks with safety officials at two local universities about how Virginia Tech has affected their security plans. She also visits with them about serving on the governor's campus security task force.

It was April 16th when the world began to learn about the terrible events that unfolded that morning on the campus of Virginia Tech...it was all over the news...All Things Considered Host Michele Norris.

There were many questions in the aftermath...Who would do such a thing? Why would someone do this? There were also questions about how to secure a campus of that size and other large campuses across the country. Just days after the tragedy, Missouri Governor Matt Blunt formed a campus security task force to evaluate security on public and private college campuses. The task force has asked for public comments, held two public meetings and will give its report to the governor in August.

Gary Snavely is Director of Safety and Transportation for Missouri State University and serves on the governor's task force.

He says one of the main areas of interest for the task force has been communication...how do administrators and law enforcement inform the public that there's a dangerous situation on campus.

Communicating with students, faculty and staff is one issue. Having a safety plan in place is another thing.

Missouri State University has a plan but following it may not always be easy or possible.

Snavely says retro-fitting doors with locks could be expensive.

During the Virginia Tech massacre, some students heard gunshots and escaped from their classroom building through windows.

Snavely says like doors, windows present a problem for Missouri State.

Snavely says even if the university installs locks and ensures windows on lower levels are available escape routes, there's no guarantee that students will be safe all the time under all circumstances.

He says the goal is to be as prepared as possible for any emergency. That's why the university recently completed a series of active shooter drills. Snavely says the university met its goal of responding to the crisis in less than three minutes. But he points out that size is a real issue for university campuses.

And we'll hear about the security challenges facing another school, Drury University as our Sense of Community series continues this afternoon at 4:30.