Jefferson City — A shooting at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) on Oct. 26, 2008 left two students dead and a third wounded. A description of a suspect car immediately went out over police radios and within three minutes of the incident, officers apprehended the first suspect. All four suspects were arrested within 24 hours.

Lt. Rhonda Swindle, commander of professional standards and community relations for campus police, says tactical training was a huge benefit to securing the campus and apprehending the suspect. "After the shooting at Virginia Tech, we hired a specialized tactical trainer on how to handle active shooters," Swindle says. "All patrol officers had more than 100 hours of modified SWAT training."

Swindle will share the lessons that were learned by the UCA shootings, including improvements to mass notification systems, at the Third Annual Conference on Coordinated School and College Safety and Security, to be held July 30 and 31 in Columbia.

Commissioner of Higher Education Robert B. Stein will introduce the keynote presentation on "Campus Emergencies and Lessons Learned."

"It is inevitable that more crises will occur on college campuses," Stein says.  "All of us should take steps to lessen the likelihood that another crisis will happen, and when it does, to reduce the extent of damage. We have a collective responsibility to not sit idly by waiting for the next emergency to strike." 

Carter D. Ward, executive director of the Missouri School Boards' Association, sponsor of the conference, noted that the association consulted with the Higher Education Subcommittee of the Homeland Security Advisory to include the higher education component.

Scholarships provided by the Department of Homeland Security are available for college students to attend the conference. Students majoring in education or academic fields related to homeland security, such as emergency management, criminal justice, crisis and disaster management, mental health programs, and other related areas will be given preference.

To be considered for a scholarship, students should send a letter of interest that includes name, address, institutional affiliation, program of study, year in school and reason for wanting to attend the conference. One reference letter from a faculty member or college administrator should also be included in the application.

The deadline to apply for the scholarship is June 1. Send completed application, letter of interest, and letter of reference to: Attn: HES/Safety Conference Scholarship, Missouri Department of Higher Education, 3515 Amazonas Drive, Jefferson City, MO 65109.

For more information about the conference or to register, visit the Website: www.schoolsafetyconference.com

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