UCO hosts National Campus Security Summit

Monday, April 14th 2008, 8:06 pm
By: News 9

By Audrey Esther, News9.com INsite Team

It's a harsh reality, but due to a number of on-campus shootings, universities must have a plan of action if a gunman opens fire.

The aim of a national conference wrapping up in the metro was to make schools more prepared and students safer.

Incidents like the mass shooting at Virginia Tech, and more recently the one at Northern Illinois University, prompted University of Central Oklahoma officials to host a national conference addressing campus safety.

Tragic scenes from a year ago at Virginia Tech and just two months ago at Northern Illinois University have campus officials across the country discussing and taking a closer look at what to do if the worst were to happen.

Lt. Todd Henert has firsthand experience in responding to on-campus shootings and was one of the first responders on the scene at NIU.

"The training that we've had, the things you see in the news, they really don't prepare you for the emotion and things that you see," Henert said.

Lt. Henert and Lt. Darren Mitchell were both keynote speakers at this year's National Campus Security Summit. They told attendees that to be fully prepared a plan must be in place.

"If it were to happen, are we going to be able to go right into the plan that we laid out, and sure enough we did," Mitchell said.

Other key areas of discussion at this year's conference included mental health and Gov. Brad Henry's final report on campus safety in Oklahoma. The report's key findings were planning and improving cooperation with law enforcement, improving notification practices and keeping accurate records and photographs.

"We can be more efficient and hopefully more effective statewide, so we don't have to reinvent the wheel from campus to campus," UCO Vice President of Information Technology, Cynthia Rolfe said.

Henert and Mitchell's final comments were if you see something, say something so officials can take proactive measures.

"Take some steps, some proactive steps to hopefully prevent this from happening anywhere else -- open communication," Henert said.