EDUCATION

UPD has a crisis plan in place

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Kara Knapik
The Oxford Eagle

Mass shootings on college campuses are an unfortunate trend that has emerged in recent years, and University of Mississippi Police Department officials say they have a plan in place to deal with such incidents.

“The University Police Department, commonly referred to as UPD, does have a plan in place for unexpected situations,” said UPD Lieutenant Bishop Lewis. “A lot of the details would depend on the specific details of the incident.

“We do a lot of training for active shooters, but you never know the specifics of the shooter – like where they’ll be or attack from. So the plan for each situation varies.”

Planning for various situations takes extensive thinking and requires a lot of practice. The UPD has to stay up to date about incidents occurring all over the country to be prepared and make adjustments needed for any type of situation.

“The UPD revises their plans for emergency situations very regularly,” Lewis said. “We do a review of our policies at least once a year. Every time there is a major event, we take it into account and see what we can do to improve our policies.”

Many students have concerns related to the competency of the UPD and their ability to act sufficiently and quickly during an unexpected crisis, because they are not aware of everything the UPD is capable of.

“Honestly, I do not think they could adequately handle an emergency crisis,” said Lauren Malone, a UM senior. “I feel like, if any type of emergency occurred, the UPD wouldn’t get to the scene in a timely manner.

“It seems as though the students are not as much of a priority as they should be, and they focus more on giving out parking tickets than actually protecting us.

“I feel like we could be next in line to have a shooting because of the recent shootings at nearby universities, and because of the horrible acts of violence occurring in so many places.”

Some students said they are unaware of any emergency plans and aren’t sure what to do in a crisis situation.

“I think it is really important for our professors to have some type of emergency plan or strategy,” said Justin Kilgore, a senior at the university. “This plan could be included in the syllabus, or at the very least, discussed with the class on the introduction day of each semester.”

The UPD offers educational opportunities about how to react in high-intensity situations. How to handle a crisis is even discussed in a class.

“All incoming freshmen and transfers have to take EDHE,” said Lewis. “We teach people how to avoid the shooter and how to deny them access to your area, and if they get into your area, how to defend it.

“Individually, people should be more aware of their surroundings, report any suspicious behavior on campus, and reach out to get help to prevent situations.”

While there are problems and critiques with most systems and organizations to some degree, the UPD does receive an equal amount of positive feedback from students and staff members for their hard work.

“I feel like they give us accurate and adequate sources for certain emergencies,” Kilgore said. “They have the emergency phones located throughout campus. It is well lit, and they keep us informed when something does happen through e-mails. They also make it easy and accessible for us to let them know when something is wrong.”

Ole Miss grows each year, and with a higher number of students on campus, some say there is an need for an increase in security personnel and officers. UPD improvements and expansions will continue to be made to make sure Ole Miss remains as safe as possible.

“The police department does not expand as much as we’d like it to, but we’re always trying to get more officers and the best officers that we can,” said Lewis.

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