CULLOWHEE – Campus police officers from four states are expected to take part in a one-day training session titled “Campus Public Safety Response to Weapons of Mass Destruction Incidents” to be held at Western Carolina University on Tuesday, Aug. 17.

The training is set for 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. in the Hospitality Room of the Ramsey Activity Center.

The course is designed for sworn and non-sworn campus law enforcement personnel, for public safety officials throughout the region, and for university staff and faculty members who would be involved in an incident involving weapons of mass destruction or other campus emergencies. Elementary and high officials also are encouraged to attend.

This marks the first time the training has been offered in Western North Carolina, and participants are expected from North and South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.

The training is funded by a grant to the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators by the federal Department of Homeland Security, Office of Domestic Preparedness, which has set aside $2 million to train 30,000 first responders over the next two years.

The course curriculum was developed by the National Center for Biomedical Research and Training, Academy of Counter-Terrorist Education, located at Louisiana State University.

IACLEA President Kenneth A. Willett, public safety director for the University of Montana, said this is first time that the importance of campus public safety has received recognition in the form of federal training funds.  “Traditionally, we had been left out of the loop for this type of training for our officers.  Fortunately, the enormous vulnerability inherent in a campus environment is now being recognized by the funding agencies,” Willett said.

There are more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States. Collectively, these campuses represent a population equal to that of a small state. Campus populations vary from fewer than 1,000 to more than 50,000. Often the campus is larger than its own host city.  The new federally funded training on weapons of mass destruction is designed to provide similar learning opportunities to two and four-year public and private institutions as well as school district police and security forces.  Many campuses are inviting their local police, fire and emergency medical service personnel to participate. 

“That's a good first step,” Willett said. “It is far better to have our officers get to know and work with their partners in law enforcement, fire service and emergency medical services before an incident,” he said.

Western began offering the first bachelor's degree program in emergency management in North Carolina and several surrounding Southeastern states last fall, in recognition of the need for increasingly sophisticated training for emergency and disaster responders.

For information about the training course at Western, contact Lt. Bob Scott of Western's University Police Department at (828) 227-7301 or via e-mail, bscott@email.wcu.edu .

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Last modified: Thursday, July 29, 2004
Copyright 2004 by Western Carolina University