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Deputy Police Chief Maps Changes Since Virginia Tech Shootings

April 16, 2008

Today marks the first anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting incident. For many of us, that tragedy underscored the realities we face as a college community. In my role as the emergency preparedness coordinator, I wanted to take a moment to share with you some of the accomplishments we have made during the past 12 months to make our campus community safer.

The university has in place the finest emergency notification system in the country. The system allows us to send text, email and voice messages during any emergency. The average time frame for a person to receive the message is 40 seconds.

We have the best outdoor emergency notification system made. The system when activated has a siren notification that can be heard seven miles in any direction followed by a voice alert over a public address system which gives quick instructions to those who are outside our buildings and enjoying our campus grounds.

We have Directed Email Communications created by our expert staff at CIS. This system allows for us to send a blast email to 22,000 people in a matter of seconds.

We have formed a partnership with media relations to improve our emergency webpage in the event of an emergency.

We have completely trained our senior management and emergency group members in the Incident Command System and crisis response. To my knowledge, we are the only state institution who has taken this aggressive approach.

We have improved our security at our BSL-3 suite in Rudman Hall. We will soon have a state of the art camera system monitored by the UNH Police Communications Center and we are in the beginning phases of working with State Homeland Security to add "eye" scan access to the suite.

Under the leadership of Dr. Anne Lawing, we have formed a crisis intervention team or "care team" as we call it, to head off and deal with those community members who have emotional difficulties and may pose a threat to themselves or others. This team has already dealt with over six issues in the past three months and the communication from faculty, staff and students around this issue has improved greatly.

The UNH Police has two Officers assigned to the Strafford County Regional Tactical Team. These officers are being trained as specialists to handle a variety of potential violent issues that could impact our campus community. The value of having a specialized local team of county law enforcement officers who understand the culture of our campus is invaluable.

The UNH Police has an Officer assigned to DEA clandestine lab team. This officer is currently working on a project with Dave Gillum and Brad Manning to better secure our campus lab access and to create a program to identify location of our controlled substances and hazardous materials.

The Housing Department in cooperation with Facilities has undergone an aggressive review of the campus locking system in our residential buildings to improve access control to student living spaces.

We have formed a new partnership with the Red Cross to respond and assist UNH during an emergency.

These are just a few of the many accomplishments we have made as a campus to keep our community members safe. UNH is on the cutting edge of crisis management in New Hampshire Higher Education and have been a role model for many institutions across the country.

So, as we reflect on those who lost their lives one year ago today, know that their passing has been a call to action by our campus and we as a team have made our campus safer for those we serve.

Paul H. Dean, deputy chief of police, UNH Police Department and Emergency Preparedness Coordinator

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