The shootings at Newtown, Conn., and the possibility that Kansas may eventually allow people with permits to bring concealed weapons on campus, have prompted the trustees at Barton Community College to review security policies.
Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman raised the issue last week at the board study session.
“When we talk about tragic events, it’s important to review what is being done,” Heilman said. Trustees were referred to a document from 2011 that outlines BCC’s security measures.
The discussion soon turned to the coming legislative session in Topeka.
In 2010, a bill was introduced that would have given Kansans the right to carry concealed weapons at their workplace, or in state or municipality premises, unless adequate security measures – such as metal detectors and security guards – could prohibit the presence of all such weapons. Mike Johnson, chairman of Barton’s board of trustees, noted that a version of the bill was introduced in 2012, and he expects another attempt this year.
“It almost passed last year,” he said. “This year it could pass.”
If so, the college would probably have to allow anyone with a concealed carry permit to bring guns on campus, Johnson said. Metal detectors at every entrance on campus would be expensive, and would not protect outdoor areas.
“We would not be able to guarantee there are no guns on campus,” Johnson said. “In my opinion – and my opinion only – we would need armed officers. I’m not convinced we shouldn’t have trained people with guns.”
Trustee Robert Feldt said he hopes lawmakers won’t try to bring the bill back. “It’s a dangerous idea,” he said, and one that would be costly for schools.
Dr. Penny Quinn, vice president of instruction and student services, said the last time the bill was considered, a late addition would have allowed schools to exercise local control and opt out of the law.
Taking another look
BCC has over 150 cameras on campus, indoors and outdoors, and an Emergency Response Team, Heilman said. The ERT can do intervention “for students that give us a reason for concern.”
Quinn said instructors are advised to look for warning signs that a student might be a danger to himself or to others. There’s also a full-time counselor on campus.
Dean of Student Services Angie Maddy said the Team was improved about one and a half years ago, as members realized they needed to share information. In a situation that occurred in the past year, for example, students reported their concerns to faculty, which led to action. There’s also a way for people to report concerns electronically. “It’s a mind set we ought to have,” Maddy said. “If you see something, say something.”
Dean of Administration Mark Dean said all campus security officers now wear body cameras, so they can record any interaction. “It totally changes the way that people act, when they see that they’re being recorded,” he said.
Campus security officers are not licensed professionals, and they don’t carry weapons. That might need to change if the public is allowed to bring weapons on campus.
“We could talk about Tazers (and) officer certification,” Heilman said.
Board members agreed that a more in-depth review of campus security should be on the agenda for the next board retreat, March 7-8.