NIU P.D. to teach representatives from other universities emergency response plans

NIU P.D. to teach representatives from other universities emergency response plans

By Kyla Gardner

In May, the NIU Police Department’s Office of Emergency Management and Planning will teach representatives from other colleges and universities how to put together emergency response plans.

“NIU is a great choice for hosting this course and other courses because of our expertise in emergency planning and campus safety,” said NIU Police Sgt. Alan Smith.

The three-day course will include the phases of emergency management, identifying hazards, partnering with the community, testing plans and engaging the campus community, according to a flyer for the event.

The Chicago Tribune reported last month that as of March 9, only 66 of Illinois’ 185 colleges and universities have filed required emergency plans with the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE). NIU is one of those 66.

The plans, meant to provide preparation for emergency management, were made mandatory by state lawmakers through the Campus Security Enhancement Act after the Feb. 14, 2008 shootings.

NIU’s plans have been in effect since 2006 and have been continually updated, Smith said. They were put together by the Office of Emergency Management and Planning in conjunction with other university officials, Smith said.

Members of NIU’s Police Department have given talks to other agencies about its response to the Feb. 14, 2008 shootings, Smith said.

The details of NIU’s emergency response plan cannot be released, Smith said, because it would be a breach of security and make them less effective.

Smith said a plan that is tested and updated adds to its success during an emergency response.

“The saying ‘those who fail to plan, plan to fail’ is true,” Smith said. “In a crisis, people fall back on their training.”

According to the Tribune article, some college administrators said they haven’t filed their plans with the IBHE because the security plan requirements are too difficult to meet. Some also said their institution already has plans but they weren’t sure where to officially file them.

Charles Luft, senior chemistry major, said he already feels safe at NIU, and the security plans don’t change that.

“Knowing that doesn’t really change how I feel,” Luft said. “…I’m not too worried about it.”

John Wilkinson, sophomore pre-athletic training major, said he wouldn’t be worried if he were a student at another Illinois college or university that hasn’t filed the plan, but he does worry about safety in DeKalb.

“We have a lot of shootings out here,” he said. “…I’m just worried about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

But Wilkinson said he felt NIU would be able to handle an emergency situation.