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Campus police take measures to prevent school shooting
Daniel Bissell / Staff Writer
Since the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.in Newtown, Conn., where 26 people were fatally shot, the U.S. has witnessed a dramatic crossfire of arguments over actions to prevent similar disasters from occurring again.
Schools around the nation, including UNT, are taking precautionary measures to ensure maximum safety for their students and faculty.
Cpl. John DeLong of the UNT Police Department said firearms are banned on university grounds.
“We follow the Texas Penal Code and the university policy when it comes to firearm laws and regulations,” he said. “No one can have a firearm on their person on the university property, except a peace officer.”
The UNT Police Department has installed various safety measures to provide people on campus with resources to report criminal activity.
“If a UNT community member finds themselves in [a shooting] situation, they can call the police with their cell phones, use one of the 79 emergency phones on campus, or even yell for someone to go get help,” DeLong said.
Assistant housing director James Fairchild said residence halls do not allow firearms in accordance with university policy. He said housing staff members are trained to take precautions by the UNT Police to prevent a breach of these guidelines.
“Firearms are banned outright in all housing at UNT,” Fairchild said. “We run a monthly safety check, a visual inspection of the rooms to make sure everything is in order. If a firearm is found in any of the halls, the UNT police will be called in to deal with the situation.”
Security measures are taken at residence halls to ensure safety for the thousands of students who occupy those buildings. UNT police are prepared to intervene in potentially dangerous scenarios involving firearms, Fairchild said.
“Housing follows protocol set by risk management and the UNT police for gun-related situations,” Fairchild said. “Our staff have completed training exercises under the guidance of the UNT police in the past to ensure preparedness in the event of a shooting.”
Economics senior Craig Williams said students should cooperate with law enforcement to ensure safety on campus in shooting situations.
“As soon as a bystander takes out a gun, there’s a chance that the remaining people may not know who is the shooter and who is the hero,” Williams said. “One hero can mistake another for the shooter. I do trust the police to be better trained on avoiding escalation of that kind.”
DeLong said the police strongly encourage students to report suspicious activity spotted on campus. The department provides reporting instructions and guidelines on its website.
“The UNT Police Department patrols the university 24/7, 365 [days a year],” DeLong said. “While officers perform their patrol duties by vehicle, bike and walking, they continuously watch for suspicious circumstances and activities that need to be acted upon.”