Local News

Report of Attorney General's Task Force on Campus Safety

Posted February 15, 2008 5:21 p.m. EST

Group recommends keeping guns out of the hands of mentally ill, Center for Campus safety to coordinate training and preparedness of NC colleges and universities.

Raleigh: A task force convened by Attorney General Roy Cooper in the wake of the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech issued recommendations today to help make North Carolina college and university campuses safer.

“No one wants to think about something so horrible ever happening here in North Carolina, but it’s our job to be ready in case the unthinkable occurs,” Cooper said. “These recommendations can help our colleges and universities get ready, reduce violence and prevent loss of life.”

Cooper’s task force today shared a variety of strategies for making North Carolina college and university campuses safer, including better efforts to recognize potentially dangerous people on campuses and preventing involuntary commitments from buying guns. The shooter in the Virginia Tech case was able to purchase guns despite the fact that he had been involuntarily committed because the commitment didn’t appear on his background check. The task force recommended that North Carolina involuntary commitments be reported to the national background check system.

The panel also recommended that North Carolina start a Center for Campus Safety to help colleges and universities keep up with new threats and the latest technology and training.

The day after a disturbed student at Virginia Tech shot and killed 32 students and faculty on April 16, 2007, Cooper brought together leaders from the University of North Carolina System, the state’s private colleges and universities, and the Community College System to establish the task force. He charged the panel with reviewing security at North Carolina colleges and universities and recommending steps to help campuses respond to a critical incident like a campus shooter.

Task force members held meeting across the state where they heard from more than 30 experts, including the FBI Special Agent in Charge who investigated the Virginia Tech shootings and the deputy director of the panel that reviewed the University’s response. In addition, the panel surveyed 110 North Carolina universities and colleges about safety on their campuses.

The Task Force determined that North Carolina campus are among the safest places in our state but that more can be done to protect students, faculty and staff from a critical incident. Key recommendations include:
• Establish campus threat assessment teams to help recognize mental illness and get connect individuals with the help they need
• Provide accurate legal guidance about student privacy laws
• Prohibit those who have been involuntarily committed from purchasing guns by reporting information to the National Instant Background Check System (NICS)
• Adopt emergency plans on campuses that fit with the National Incident Management System
• Better coordinate campuses with law enforcement/first responders, including through mutual aid agreements and integrated communications
• Train students, faculty and staff about what to do if an emergency occurs on campus
• Adopt multiple alert systems to notify students, faculty and staff about incidents on campus
• Include victim counseling and regular briefings for families in the event of an emergency
• Establish a Center for Campus Safety to coordinate training and share best practices among North Carolina colleges and universities

The complete report with all findings and recommendations is available at www.ncdoj.gov