April 22, 2016 Message from Barbara Larson
April 22, 2016
The safety of our students, employees and visitors must be the college's highest priority. JCCC has taken many actions in recent years to help ensure that it remains so. A few examples are:
- Our certified and professionally trained 365 x 24 x 7 police department
- Investment in the promotion of armed intruder A.L.I.C.E (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) training for employees, students and volunteers
- Our KOPS Program (Keeping Our People Safe), which provides information and avenues for communicating safety concerns, such as KOPS Watch and JCCC Guardian
- Our Behavioral Intervention Team, a cross-functional team that receives and assesses reports of danger or harm that may result from the actions of an identified person or persons engaged with the college
More recently, in late 2015, the college formed the KOPS advisory committee, a group of faculty and staff whose charge is to solicit feedback from JCCC constituent groups and facilitate communication with the president's cabinet to provide input for making strategic decisions about safety and security issues. This KOPS advisory committee is co-chaired by Alisa Pacer, the college's emergency preparedness manager, and Janelle Vogler, the executive director of audit and advisory services.
As expected, much of the discussion during the committee's early months has pertained to a Kansas statute which will allow the concealed-carry of handguns in our facilities beginning July 1, 2017. I appreciate that the faculty senate and faculty association recently sponsored a survey of faculty regarding perceptions about the concealed-carry statute. The KOPS advisory committee used the same instrument (with minor modifications) to survey nonfaculty employees after spring break, as well as to administer a survey to our students. The results of these surveys will be important as we address ways in which we can continue to improve campus safety.
Here is a general timeline of what has occurred to date and the next steps:
- We have explored the cost of "adequate security measures," defined in the concealed-carry legislation as electronic equipment and personnel at public entrances to detect and restrict the carrying of any weapons. The college has approximately 100 public entrances when all college buildings are considered.
- Our emergency preparedness team has reached out to counterparts in other states who have similar conceal-carry laws affecting higher education institutions to determine how they have implemented policy changes. We will be recommending the incorporation of certain best practices from other institutions into updated college policies and procedures concerning concealed-carry on campus.
- Our police department has enhanced its active shooter training modules and will participate in future concealed-carry training sessions planned by the KU Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center.
Before the end of this academic year, we intend to:
- Review all existing campus safety training and awareness programs and begin developing additional programs to address the upcoming changes to our campus environment
- Support the KOPS advisory committee with an open forum where team members and others will present current progress on the college's preparations for July 1, 2017, and solicit additional input on our work
- Incorporate students into the KOPS advisory committee to ensure we have a robust set of views and ideas represented on this committee
- Designate additional budgetary funds for the enhancement of security operations
Absent a change in the legislative landscape, you may expect such activities to pick up in fall 2016 as we devote the next academic year to more specific preparations for July 2017. I appreciate that this can be a difficult and emotional topic for many, and we are working to provide timely information to address concerns. Thank you for your dedication to our students and to each other in helping make our campus as safe as possible.
— Barbara Larson, Executive Vice President, Finance and Administrative Services