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Review and Evaluation of the Current Status of Campus Safety and Security on Oklahoma's Postsecondary Campuses

2009 Survey Results

Campus Safety
A Self-Assessment of Campus Security and Vulnerability to Acts of Terrorism was conducted in 2007 and followed up in 2008 and 2009. The heads of all private and public universities, community colleges and career technology centers were contacted to respond to questions concerning their readiness in the event of an emergency.

During 2009, the survey indicates that the 71 responding institutions have a much broader array of notification technologies. In 2008, the survey revealed campuses relied much more heavily on e-mail, Web sites and blue phones. The 2009 survey indicates that more students now have increased access to notifications via cell phones/pagers, blue phones, text messaging, phone trees and intercoms.

During 2009, survey respondents revealed that approximately 62 percent of campuses have plans for bomb threats. Approximately 59 percent have plans for active shooters, 55 percent for hazardous waste and 49 percent for terrorism. Forty-nine percent of respondents have plans for pandemic flu, which is up from 32 percent in 2008.

The development of institutional emergency plans in cooperation with local law enforcement has increased from 79 percent in the 2007 survey to 80 percent in the 2009 survey. Ninety-one percent of campuses said that they review their emergency plan operations annually. This is an increase over 2008 in which 84 percent reviewed their plans annually.

Eleven postsecondary institutions indicated they are in need of additional campus security officers on the 2009 survey.Fifty-nine percent of responding campuses indicated that they provide copies of emergency plans to local emergency management organizations, and 56 percent of respondents indicated that they have blueprints of buildings and building layouts on file with the local police and fire departments.

Eighty-two percent of campuses responded that they provide annual safety and security training to their faculty and staff, and approximately 80 percent reported that students are being trained.

The 2009 survey revealed that 54 percent of campuses have mental health recovery plans. In the initial survey, only 30 percent of campuses had plans in place.

A strong majority of respondents, 85 percent, indicated that they have a crisis communications team in place to respond to media and parents in a timely manner.

Approximately 51 percent of respondents indicated that they have fire alarms and sprinklers in all campus buildings.

Forty-four percent of responding campuses indicated that they have a business continuity of operations plan in place. Business continuity plans include names and positions of individuals who will take over certain key positions within organizations in the event of an emergency.

The 2009 survey revealed that 90 percent of institutions have emergency contact information on file for staff, faculty and facility managers.

The CLASS Task Force counseling surveys were sent to 84 higher education and career technology institutions. The response rate was 25 public institutions, three private institutions and 32 career technology centers.

Among responding institutions, 57 percent indicated they have a licensed mental health counselor available on campus. Of those that do not have a licensed counselor on campus, 79 percent responded that their campus has access to licensed counselors off campus.

Sixty percent of respondents have a threat assessment team in place on campus. Of those with a team in place, 67 percent have a licensed mental health professional serving on the team.

Respondents were asked to identify mental health/safety issues they had encountered on campus over the last two years and rank the top three. Depression, relationship problems and classroom disruptions were the three most common issues faced. Respondents were also asked to identify and rank the top three issues that raised concerns, alarm or came to the attention of the crisis management team. Classroom disruptions, angry outbursts in public and illegal drug abuse were the most common issues cited.

Review of Publicly Reported Incidents on Oklahoma’s Campuses
During 2009, Oklahoma’s postsecondary campuses experienced incidents ranging from a bomb hoax to shootings. The following is a recap of the publicly reported incidents.

In January, police arrested a man in connection with a bomb hoax on the University of Central Oklahoma campus. The man contacted the Edmond police claiming he overheard three men talking in a parking lot about plans to “blow up” UCO the next day. Police determined the bomb threat was a hoax. The man was arrested, indicted by a federal grand jury, prosecuted by the U.S. attorney and convicted for falsely reporting a terrorist threat.

In February, a former University of Oklahoma student was charged with kidnapping and possession of a firearm while in the commission of a felony on allegations that he tried to abduct an OU faculty member at gunpoint. An affidavit alleges that the student forced a Japanese instructor to leave her Kaufman Hall office by showing her a handgun, grabbing her arm and pushing her. If freed, the student must avoid the instructor, OU and guns; wear a tracker; and undergo a mental evaluation.

Also in February, an administrator on the Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City campus found what she thought was a “suspicious device” in a storage room. Police later confirmed the pipelike object was a training device left by a former instructor of a terrorism awareness and training program.

In March, the OSU Police Department in Stillwater issued a warning after students reported possibly being drugged with Rohypnol, commonly known as the “date rape” drug, at establishments off campus. None of the students reported any sexual assault.

Also in March, students and faculty at UCO evacuated the science building after an “unsubstantiated” threat was made to the building. A search of the building revealed nothing, and students and faculty were allowed to return.

OU police investigated the distribution of leaflets in March. The leaflets contained racist language and sexual connotations against black people. OU police did not have any leads on where the flyers came from or how many were distributed.

In April, a former Rogers State University student pleaded no contest to a felony charge of planning an act of violence and a misdemeanor count of outraging public decency. The student faces up to 10 years in prison for planning a campus shooting. Officials said the student planned to kill students and faculty members.

In August, five people were shot after a party in the gymnasium on the Langston University campus. Five people were arrested. No one shot or arrested was a student at the university. Meanwhile, police apprehended another non-LU student for use of a vehicle as a deadly weapon. Her motives and connection to the shooting were investigated, and authorities said she used her car to hit another non-LU student. The victim sustained minor injuries and was not taken into medical care.

A building at The University of Tulsa was evacuated in August as a precautionary measure after potentially unstable chemicals were found in a chemistry class. Firefighters were dispatched to what was initially reported as an explosion at Keplinger Hall. Once they arrived, firefighters found that no explosion had actually occurred. The fire department was called for precautionary reasons. The Hazardous Materials Team and the Tulsa Police Bomb Squad responded to remove and dispose of the chemicals.

In October the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma sanctioned the only fraternity on the school’s campus, Phi Lambda Chi, for inappropriate conduct. It was reported that a female student was asked to bare her chest for a photograph by two fraternity members and a pledge. The sanctions included prohibiting the fraternity from accepting new members or taking part in any social activities during the fall semester.

Also in October, shots were fired on the Langston University campus, just days after the university unveiled new security measures in response to the August shootings. No one was injured.

In November, an OU employee was charged with three felony counts of arson in connection with fires on campus in September. Co-workers told investigators the employee, who was in charge of lab safety and stockrooms, was upset about negative performance reviews and being stripped of job duties, including control over budget items.

Recap of Concealed Carry Bills
Two measures were filed during the 2009 legislative session pertaining to guns on Oklahoma campuses.

State Rep. Jason Murphey introduced HB 1083 in February, which would authorize people who hold valid concealed handgun licenses and are certified by the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) or who are faculty members charged with classroom responsibilities to carry concealed handguns on public college or university property. The bill would allow public colleges and universities to maintain the authority to restrict concealed handguns in access-controlled events where people are subject to security checkpoint screenings upon entering. The bill was assigned to the House Public Safety Committee where it was not heard during the 2009 legislative session.

State Sen. Randy Bass introduced SB 1101 in February, which would authorize any person certified by CLEET and currently employed by a law enforcement agency in Oklahoma, whether or not the person is in possession of a valid concealed handgun license, to carry a concealed firearm onto any college or university property. The bill would also allow individuals to carry firearms approved by the employing law enforcement agency onto any college or university property while wearing the uniform of their employing law enforcement agency. In addition, the measure would authorize individuals with a valid concealed handgun license, provided the individual is in possession of both the CLEET certification and the concealed handgun license, to carry the handgun onto college property. The bill was assigned to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education where it failed to pass out of the committee by a voice vote.

The CLASS Task Force, along with the state system of higher education, career technology system, Council of Presidents, Student Advisory Board, law enforcement officials, parents of college students and the business community will remain opposed to legislation permitting guns on Oklahoma campuses.

In the area of mental health counseling, respondents to the 2009 survey listed a significant number of requests for behavioral threat assessment and response training, drug and alcohol training, and assessment tools.