SPRINGFIELD– Under the direction of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich, the members of the Illinois Campus Security Task Force will meet for the first time today at the State Emergency Response Center in Springfield, to begin working on a comprehensive initiative to enhance the State’s ability to prevent, respond to and recover from events such as the tragic shootings that occurred at Virginia Tech this spring.
“The Illinois Campus Security Task Force brings together some of the top experts in Illinois from law enforcement, emergency management, fire services, mental health, the higher education community and the Illinois Attorney General’s office to focus on helping make college campuses safer,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
Col. Jill Morgenthaler, the Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Safety, will chair the Illinois Campus Security Task Force. The task force, comprised of more than 40 members will be divided into the following three groups:
· Preparedness and Response – will evaluate issues and options related to campus incident management plans, incident command training for campus officials, development of campus security protocols, emergency communications and messaging, and distribution of interoperable radios to campus security officials.
· Awareness, Prevention, and Mental Health Issues – will work on increasing faculty and student awareness of mental health issues, assessing availability and providing guidance on early intervention and mental health services, and increasing information sharing on university policies and legal issues regarding mental health issues.
· Legal Issues – will focus on ensuring law enforcement officials can access appropriate safety records without compromising patients’ rights, as well as reviewing existing legal and regulatory authorities to determine what reforms are required to ensure access.
In April, Gov. Blagojevich announced three campus safety initiatives, including the Campus Security Task Force. The Governor’s other initiatives included 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, and more than $300,000 from the ITTF to purchase 300 STARCOM21 radios to college campuses to enhance communications with local response agencies during emergencies. Those radios will be distributed and training provided to college security officials before the new school year begins.
These campus security initiatives build upon the Governor’s earlier school security initiatives for grades K-12 contained in the School Safety Drill Act, which he signed into law in August 2005. Included in that act was a school security training project, under which more than 2,600 educators and first responders from public and private schools throughout the state have received training to help them better prepare for various emergencies at their schools.