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Campus Safety is a Top Priority


UC Riverside Augments Emergency Readiness

Virginia Tech Tragedy Prompts a Year of Upgrades

(April 16, 2008)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) -- Violence at other universities, such as the shooting tragedy at Virginia Tech one year ago, has offered lessons for all universities about how to best prepare to keep the campus community safe in a crisis.

"I assure you UC Riverside is devoting major attention to those lessons,” Chancellor Robert D. Grey wrote in a message to the campus community. “We have taken significant steps to evaluate and develop UC Riverside’s preparedness for such emergencies as natural disasters, pandemic disease, and an active shooter or bomb threat situation.”

Already served by an environmental safety program, a full police department and a fire marshal, UCR in the past year has introduced an emergency alert system, trained all of its officers in rapid response to an active shooter, and augmented its mental health staff. In addition, campus leadership has participated in tabletop drills to ensure a rapid response in the event of an emergency.

Emergency response

Under the guidance of a full-time emergency planner, the campus has an emergency operations plan and a specially equipped emergency operations center to coordinate emergency response.

In October of 2007, UCR introduced an emergency alert system to provide faculty, staff and students with timely information and instructions during emergencies. The system can send simultaneous text messages registered members of the university community. Currently, 61 percent of UCR students and 24 percent of faculty and staff have registered to receive messages. The system complements other communications, including use of the police bullhorns and sirens, fire alarms, e-mail, the Web, and news media.

An Emergency Communications Workgroup was established in July 2006, and continually assesses available communications methods and equipment. Training sessions have been held on Web-based communication software called WebEOC that will help.

Each building has a point person for emergency conditions, to develop specific emergency plans and to provide on-site instruction and communications during building evacuations.

Regular emergency drills are held, with an active shooter exercise completed in March of this year with executive management. The campus will hold a full scale emergency drill by April 2010. Each campus department must have an updated emergency plan by that time.

Police

All campus police officers have completed a two-day active shooter training with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. The UCR police department now owns ballistic shields and helmets and is training to deploy them. While it was once standard for law enforcement to set up a perimeter and wait for a specially trained and equipped SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team to arrive, the active shooter procedures call for teams of trained patrol officers to move in immediately and neutralize the shooter.

The department has also developed a crisis response presentation for faculty, staff, and students to learn strategies to increase the likelihood of surviving a shooting incident like Virginia Tech's.
UCPD acquired a Mobile Command Post vehicle to assist with on-scene incident command in violent incidents involving multiple police agencies. The department has established relationships with other local, state, and jurisdictional police and fire agencies. The department conducts a multi-agency active shooter scenario training each year.

UCPD has created a Critical Incident Response Book, detailing sensitive sites, command post locations, and aerial photographs of the campus to assist neighboring law enforcement agencies in responding to the campus.

Student Mental Health/Counseling

The campus established a Critical Student Incident Team that includes Student Affairs, Police, Counseling and Housing, to discuss common concerns and to work with faculty and other instructors who are in contact with students who could be in serious distress.

The UCR Counseling Center redesigned the center’s Web site to include mental health resources for the campus community, especially at times of heightened concern, after reports of emergencies. The center also published a new edition of “Assisting the Emotionally Distressed Student” for faculty and staff. This is available to the campus community in hard copies or accessed via http://counseling.ucr.edu.

UCR’s Counseling Center has established a 24-hour crisis counseling service at (951) 827-5531, as well as developed, in conjunction with other campus departments, preventive programs for students, faculty and staff in recognizing students who may be experiencing distress. The center is stocking a “Crash Cart” that will make it easier to respond quickly with the right materials to a campus emergency.

Student Affairs received Mental Health funding to increase current minimal part-time psychiatry in both the Student Health Center and the Counseling Center to one full-time psychiatrist shared by the departments. Student Affairs is also recruiting a social worker to act as a case manager for students in mental distress. Student Affairs is currently developing a Wellness Center to foster wholistic approaches to healthy living and offering educational mental health care to “at risk” populations on campus.

Campus Home Page

The campus home page (ucr.edu) provides a link to Campus Emergency Status page (http://campusstatus.ucr.edu) and Emergency Procedures Page (http://www.ehs.ucr.edu/ep/fp/) which provides guidance for a variety of emergency conditions and contact information for further assistance.

Campus Violence Prevention Program

Last fall, the Campus Violence Prevention Program, a national leader in combating violence against women, was awarded a $1 million federal grant to help UC's 10 campuses improve their prevention and response programs. The three-year project aims to coordinate a model program to reduce the incidence of campus-based violence against women and to provide effective outreach programs and services that make it as comfortable as possible for victims to come forward.


The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

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