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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 29, 2007
Governor Blagojevich announces new initiatives to increase safety on more than 180 college campuses throughout Illinois
Plan builds on Governor’s school security initiatives for K-12; includes task force to develop campus security strategies, new grants for interoperable communications equipment, and college representation on Illinois Terrorism Task Force
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced three initiatives to enhance safety for students, faculty, staff and visitors at Illinois institutions of higher education. The Governor’s initiatives, which build upon his K-12 school security initiatives instituted in 2005, include creation of a task force charged with developing training to help colleges prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies; over $300,000 in grants to improve interoperable communications capabilities on campuses; and the addition of college officials and campus security representatives to the multi-agency Illinois Terrorism Task Force (ITTF), which develops and implements the state’s homeland security strategy.
“We have a responsibility to do everything possible to ensure the safety of all students, from elementary and secondary schools to colleges and universities,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “As the senseless tragedy at Virginia Tech last week showed us, tragedy can strike any time, any place, anywhere. Two years ago, we initiated an ambitious effort to ensure elementary and secondary schools are prepared to handle all types of emergencies. This training program has been widely acclaimed and, to date, nearly 900 public and private schools have participated in it. I believe this program provides a solid foundation for the college security training program that I am directing the new Illinois Campus Security Task Force to develop.”
The Governor’s campus safety initiative has three components:
• Creation of an Illinois Campus Security Task Force with members representing community colleges, public and private colleges and universities, proprietary institutions, the ITTF, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), the Illinois State Police (ISP), the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS), and the Illinois Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.
• Immediately provides $330,000 from the ITTF to the Illinois Campus Law Enforcement Administrators to purchase portable Starcom 21 radios, which will provide colleges with interoperable communications capabilities with other responders during emergencies. The ITTF already has distributed more than 1,800 Starcom radios to public safety agencies throughout the state, including law enforcement, fire, emergency management and public health departments.
• Appoints the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) and the Illinois Campus Law Enforcement Administrators to the ITTF. The participation of these groups in the ITTF will also allow other public safety bodies to gain additional insight into the security issues and incidence response requirements unique to college campuses. The ITTF currently has more than 70 member organizations representing state and local agencies, public safety organizations, municipalities with populations over 100,000 and the business community.
Gov. Blagojevich has charged the new Illinois Campus Security Task Force to examine security issues on college campuses and develop protocols that will ensure the safety of students, faculty, staff and visitors at those campuses. As a first step, the Governor is directing the Illinois Campus Security Task Force to identify training needs and implement programs that will help campus security officials prepare for, respond to and recover from security incidents on their campuses.
“Illinois’ higher education system provides a rich mix of highly diverse institutions in every corner of Illinois, and we realize there is not a ‘one-size fits all’ solution to the complex issue of campus security,” said IBHE Chairwoman Carrie Hightman. “Creation of the Illinois Campus Security Task Force and inclusion of colleges and universities in the Illinois Terrorism Task Force is a logical, productive step toward building on existing policies and resources to protect the safety and enhance the security of all on our college campuses.”
The Governor’s college security initiatives announced today expand upon his earlier school security initiatives for grades K-12 contained in the School Safety Drill Act. Signed into law in August 2005, the Act includes:
• Creation of a School Security Training Project to enhance school safety and emergency operations planning;
• Creation of an “All-Hazards” school emergency drill statute to replace existing fire, bus and tornado drill statutes with streamlined rules; and,
• Creation of a comprehensive new state model emergency planning guide for schools, which included merging and updating two existing guides.
Since the school security training project was initiated in August 2005, more than 2,600 educators and first responders from public and private schools throughout the state have attended one of the more than 80 free training sessions offered. The two courses – a five-hour “Critical Incident Response Teams” seminar and a two-day “Multi-Hazard Emergency Planning for Illinois Schools” workshop – help schools prepare for developing emergency management teams and updating their emergency and crisis response plans. Last week 25 Illinois State Police Safety Education Officers participated in the “Multi-Hazard Emergency Planning for Illinois Schools,” which qualifies these officers to conduct trainings in their geographic base.
In addition to his other requests, the Governor has directed the Illinois Campus Security Task Force to reexamine the state’s School Safety Drill Act to determine if some provisions should be amended to include colleges.
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