University of Georgia Upgrades Security

ATHENS, Ga. – In the wake of he April 16 mass shooting at Virginia Tech, University of Georgia (UGA) President Michael Adams appointed two committees to review UGA’s ability to prevent, communicate and respond to emergencies on campus.

Though the committees are aware that other crises can occur on campus such as a tornado or a chemical spill, they reviewed UGA’s emergency plans as a direct outcome of the Tech shootings and therefore, many proposals by the committees are a direct result of the massacre.

The proposals include:

  • Adding an enhanced 911 capability on campus and reverse 911
  • Providing additional training and pay for campus law enforcement officers. This move is intended to decrease the turnover rate, which is currently 28 percent.
  • Eliminating hardware on doors that allow someone to chain to doors, trapping other individuals inside
  • Creating a team that can assess behavior and determine what authorities should do when students or employees exhibit disturbing behavior
  • Requiring campus constituents to use the UGA Alert, which will notify students and staff of emergencies via E-mail or text message
  • Installing security cameras in Sanford Stadium

One recommendation is directly related to the shooting – eliminating doors with hardware that can be chained together and prevent people from escaping.

Before the committee reports came out, UGA began making changes to its ways of communicating and emergency preparedness, starting with the UGA Alert, which is an automated system informing students and campus workers about emergencies through E-mail and text messaging. However, only 20 percent of UGA workers and students have signed up for the program.

The committees recommend UGA officials change how students and workers sign up.  With the new procedure, students and workers will automatically be included in the program unless a person informs UGA officials that he or she doesn’t want to take part in the program.

With 911 upgrades, dispatchers will be able to find the exact location of an emergency caller on the UGA campus. Also, the police department will be able to inform a large number of people about incidents in the area with reverse 911.

In March 2002, UGA officials considered adding 911 features to the new phone system they had installed but rejected the idea because during a time of budget cuts – the idea was too costly.  By June 2009, the university hopes to replace the phone system with a voice-over-Internet protocol or VoIP system.

If UGA officials decide to implement the proposals, Adams’ response will include possible financial support for any upgrades.

Though the security cameras in Sanford Stadium will cost about $500,000, it is possible that a federal grant will pay for half the cost. And for many, having security cameras in Sanford Stadium is long overdue.

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