SPRINGFIELD – During a ceremony on the University of Illinois-Chicago campus, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today commended members of the Campus Security Task Force (CSTF) for their thorough study of campus security issues and accepted the group’s comprehensive 259-page report, which details recommendations for increasing security at the more than 180 institutions of higher learning in Illinois. The Governor also embraced the task force’s legislative proposals to create a $25 million grant program to boost campus security and require campus emergency response and violence prevention plans, saying his administration would act quickly to push for legislative approval. The report also includes detailed guidance for college administrators and security officials in the areas of response, mental health and prevention, and legal issues.
“When I created this task force in the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy, I gave it the very serious mission of developing ways that we can make Illinois campuses safer and more secure for our students,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “As we mark the two-month anniversary of the Northern Illinois University shootings and the one-year anniversary of the Virginia Tech incident this week, I commend the Campus Security Task Force for presenting me with a report that provides not only solid recommendations for making campuses safer, but also substantive tools to help campuses move forward in security efforts.”
On April 29, 2007, less than two weeks after the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech, Gov. Blagojevich announced three campus safety initiatives, including creation of the Campus Security Task Force. The task force was charged with developing and implementing comprehensive, coordinated policies and training programs to deter, prevent and significantly enhance the response to and recovery from major public safety incidents at higher education campuses in Illinois. Members of the task force represent a broad spectrum of more than 75 agencies and organizations from the emergency response, mental health services, legal and higher education communities.
The task force first met in June 2007 and formed three committees to focus on response, prevention and mental health, and legal issues.
“Working with over 45 talented professionals representing various disciplines across multiple jurisdictions, the Response Committee has made findings and crafted recommendations that improve the ability of colleges and universities across this state to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters,” said Andrew Velasquez III, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and chairman of the response committee. “The work of this remarkable committee will serve to protect the precious human resources that our campuses represent. I am proud to have led this committee as it performed this important work.”
“The tragedies at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University have exposed the most difficult issues facing our colleges,” said Attorney General Lisa Madigan. “I am pleased to be part of this effort to bring experts together to study how we can better protect our college communities. As part of the Campus Safety Task Forces’ legal committee, we have worked to help colleges find the best way to balance students’ rights to privacy with the need to maintain campus security.”
“Recent events have shown the importance of raising awareness of mental health issues and eliminating stigma that continues to serve as a barrier to those in need of accessing services both on college campuses and in our communities,” said Lorrie Rickman Jones, Ph.D., director of the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health. “Additionally, we must ensure there is adequate mental health service delivery on campuses and explore opportunities for new collaborations to enhance existing services with community based mental health systems.”
The task force’s report was originally expected to be completed earlier this year, but members decided to delay finalizing the report to ensure it captured initial lessons learned from the response and recovery to the shootings at the Northern Illinois University campus in DeKalb. Task force members met with NIU officials a few weeks after the incident. While the formal investigation into the incident is ongoing at this time, task force members noted that NIU’s response represents an effective model for all-hazards emergency planning, response and recovery at an institution of higher education.
Gov. Blagojevich said he fully supports two legislative proposals recommended by the task force, including the Campus Security Enhancement Act of 2008 and the Campus Security Enhancement Grant Program.
Under the Campus Security Enhancement Act, all Illinois higher education institutions would be required to develop and exercise an all-hazards emergency response plan and an inter-disciplinary and multi-jurisdictional campus violence prevention plan. State and local emergency management officials will assist with the development of these plans, as well as with training and exercises related to the plans. The Act would also require the development and implementation of a campus violence prevention committee and campus threat assessment team. The CSTF Report provided detailed guidance on how to properly develop such committees and teams.
The task force also recommended creation of a $25 million Campus Security Enhancement Grant Program, which would make available funding for campus security response and violence prevention training programs, projects to enhance emergency communications and planning and execution of campus-wide training exercises. Funding for this initiative is included in the Governor’s Capital Bill.
While the task force’s report was released today, the group last fall implemented other portions of the Governor’s campus safety initiatives, including the distribution and training for the use of more than 300 STARCOM21 radios to 70 college campuses throughout Illinois to enhance communications with local response agencies during emergencies. In addition, 200 officials from nearly 100 campuses participated in six Campus Security Awareness Training Program sessions conducted around the state by the CSTF.
The Governor asked task force members to continue their efforts for campus security by meeting twice a year to determine how the recommendations are being implemented and determine if additional measures are needed. The CSTF’s report outlines more than a dozen additional actions task force members could address in the coming months.
(Campus Security Task Force recommendations attached)
Recommendations from CSTF committees
Response Committee Recommendations
Colleges and universities should ensure that all campus agencies that are or may be involved in the response to an emergency on their campuses are trained in the National Incident Management System (NIMS). NIMS should form the common operating structure for any response between all jurisdictions and disciplines. All key decision makers at a college or university should be familiar with NIMS.
Colleges and universities should make development and implementation of interoperable communications among response agencies a central focus of campus emergency planning. The statewide Starcom21 system provides a mechanism for colleges and universities to coordinate response activities with outside public safety agencies.
Colleges and universities should adopt the Incident Command System (ICS) model, delineated in NIMS, as the basis for command and control in the event of an emergency. All first responders and key college and university personnel should be familiar with ICS and train and exercise the use of this system.
Colleges and universities should develop an all-hazards emergency response plan to address those hazards that may threaten their campuses. Development of all-hazard plans should be statutorily required.
Colleges and universities should take steps to see that the first responders they will rely upon in the execution of their all-hazard plans are appropriately trained and exercised.
Colleges and universities should ensure that students, faculty and staff are informed regarding their roles and responsibilities in preparing for and responding to emergency situations.
Colleges and universities should work to develop and implement strong, multimodal, internal emergency communications and notifications systems for their campuses. These systems should use a range of technologies and redundant features.
Prevention and Mental Health Committee Recommendations
Colleges and universities should develop culturally and linguistically appropriate messages to de-stigmatize mental illness, and should expand opportunities for integration into the campus community.
Colleges and universities should provide enhanced training to appropriate members of the campus community on recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental illness.
Colleges and universities should establish campus policies on mental health awareness and prevention activities, and widely distribute mental health awareness and prevention information.
In consultation with expert guidance, colleges and universities should develop multi-disciplinary “threat assessment” teams to investigate and intervene in the face of a potential or actual threat.
Colleges and universities should use International Association of Counseling Services (IACS) as a guideline for best practices in the delivery of mental health services.
Colleges and universities should develop formal or informal agreements with local community mental health services to address gaps in mental health treatment.
Colleges and universities should attempt to eliminate all waiting lists for mental health services.
Colleges and universities should ensure that all students, faculty or staff experiencing a mental health crisis have access to immediate intervention.
Colleges and universities should identify and publicize the existence on campus of an office or individual responsible for providing mental health counseling referrals.
Colleges and universities should train direct service mental health and counseling center personnel on the Illinois Mental Health Code (IMHC) and requirements for involuntary and voluntary hospitalizations and treatment.
Colleges and universities should train direct service personnel on the requirements of the Firearms Owners Identification (FOID) Act.
Colleges and universities should develop plans to secure crisis counselors who can be “activated” in the event of an emergency in coordination with, and through, their local emergency management officials.
Colleges and universities should develop a plan for the management of volunteers deployed to a campus in the wake of a crisis as a part of their all-hazards emergency management plan, developed and executed in partnership with their local emergency manager.
Colleges and universities should develop relationships with governmental agencies to ascertain the availability of federal and state resources for mental health services in the event of a crisis.
Legal Committee Recommendations
Colleges and universities need to clarify for faculty and staff their roles, duties, and responsibilities under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) and the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act (MHDDCA).
Colleges and universities should develop and/or update response plans and processes, designate appropriate points of contact, and ensure rapid response to legal issues arising from a campus incident.
Colleges and universities need to make aware, and train campus personnel on all campus emergency response policies and related state and federal laws, regulations, and policies, with particular emphasis on the duties, rights and responsibilities of all key parties covering:
-The type of information that can be exchanged between mental health providers and campus officials about students and campus personnel and the circumstances under which such an exchange is appropriate;
-The joint response plan between local law enforcement and the campus to address emergencies on campus;
-The inclusion of violence and threat of violence in the student code of conduct as behavior that may result in suspension, dismissal, or expulsion and how a violation of that standard may impact of enrollment and/or housing status and appeal rights;
-The campus’ position regarding weapons on campus;
-The intra-campus coordination of information sharing among campus housing, law enforcement, health professionals, and administration, including who has access to which information, delineating what level of information can be shared with whom amongst campus emergency responders;
-The identity of the lead agency in an emergency, recognizing that it may change depending on the nature of the emergency;
-The contact people available for students and campus personnel in reporting a dangerous or potentially dangerous person on campus; and
-The new (effective June 1, 2008) standard for involuntary civil commitment as it applies to transport and/or removal of individuals from campus.