Proposed national center would assist in campus safety

Congress is considering a bill that would create a National Center on Campus Public Safety , which would be responsible for training schools in public safety techniques. The bill was introduced Sept. 8 by Rep. Bobby Scott, D-VA. Scott stressed it wouldnâÄôt be a regulatory center, and schools could choose whether they want to participate. âÄúEveryone would benefit,âÄù he said. âÄúYou donâÄôt want to wait for a tragedy to occur before you do something.âÄù The center, which would cost $2.7 million per year if approved, would focus on researching better safety procedures for schools and allow schools across the country to share information about their public safety policies. âÄúColleges might want to see what others are doing,âÄù Scott said. The idea for the center came to Scott following the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, he said. While the center would deal with responding to tragedies like a shooting, it would also look at other safety strategies, such as campus lighting or student escort services, which the University already has covered. The University offers a free campus escort service for students, as well as emergency notification systems, such as TXT-U and e-mail alerts, according to the UniversityâÄôs 2008 Safety and Security on Campus report. Representatives from the Office of Student Affairs and the UniversityâÄôs police department were not able to comment Wednesday. Although Scott didnâÄôt propose the center to Congress until last week, a National Summit on Campus Public Safet y mentioned the measure in 2004 . Susan Riseling , associate vice-chancellor and chief of police at the University of Wisconsin, was a member of the summit and said she was pleased to see the center was on the table. Even though it took almost four years for the recommendation to be brought before Congress, Riseling said the timeframe wasnâÄôt a problem. âÄúI think, for the federal government, its lightning speed,âÄù she said. The actual crux of the center is something that would help schools of all sizes, she said. âÄúWeâÄôve got these expectations that, somehow, if you are in university law enforcement that itâÄôs like one solution fits all,âÄù she said. According to the bill, the center would: âÄîProvide training and education for schools âÄîAllow schools to share safety techniques with one another âÄîWork with federal agencies such as the Departments of Homeland Security and Education to develop protocols for certain situations. Riseling said that larger schools, like Wisconsin and the University, could play a leading role in the center. âÄúI think that the larger universities tend to face a larger variety of threats and issues,âÄù she said. âÄúAs a result, our experience is one we can share with those who have not experienced it.âÄù