VUPD chief addresses campus safety concerns

Kayla Trent, Assistant Editor

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With the many school shootings that have occurred across the U.S. in recent years, many students at Vincennes University have probably asked themselves this question: “What if an active shooter were to come to VU?”

Robert Dunham, Vincennes University Police Department chief, says that the VUPD has plans in place if an active shooter was to threaten VU’s campus.

“An active shooter is something that is not predicted,” said Dunham. He explained that the police officers know what the basic rules are as far as law enforcement goes, and that the officers go through training yearly in an effort for them to better serve this campus.

The Trailblazer surveyed several students and asked them whether or not they had been taught protocol for an active shooter situation.

Cloe Nolen, a conservation law enforcement major from Lynn, said that she has learned about the protocol for the event of an active shooter, but that it has only been talked about in her law enforcement classes. Several of the other law enforcement majors that participated in the survey mentioned similar things.

Of those The Trailblazer surveyed, there were many students that claimed to never have been taught the proper protocol for an active shooter situation. Many of those students said that they wished they would have been taught more about VU’s policy and protocol in the case of an active shooter.

In Feb. 2019, several members of VU law enforcement and other staff will be participating in ALICE Training, which is a program that certifies people so that they can train employees and students of schools to be better prepared for an active shooter situation.

Some professors and staff have been trained for the potential threat of an active shooter, but after the ALICE Training takes place Dunham said that he hopes VU will begin to have bi-annual training for employees and students on both the Vincennes and Jasper campuses. He wants as many students and staff members to know the active shooter protocol as possible.

Dunham said that VU is currently looking into having a small selection of faculty members and professors be trained to have firearms in their classrooms. He mentioned that there is a potential proposal in the works to receive approval from the Board of Trustees to where carefully selected staff could go through the same training law enforcement does before they’re put on duty. This would allow the professors or staff that go through this training to better handle an active shooter situation and to be able to have a firearm their classroom.

VUPD has several ways in which they try to ensure the safety of students. Scattered throughout campus are blue security towers. Students can push the button on these to contact the police immediately, as they have a direct link to the campus police phone system. These security towers are tested weekly to continuously make sure they are working efficiently.

There is discussion taking place to add several more security towers, including one at Kimmell Park and another in the area between Updike Hall and Jefferson Student Union.

Dunham also wants to work more closely with the Vincennes city police, which acts as VU’s emergency response team, to familiarize them with VU’s buildings and campus as a whole so that they can act more efficiently in the case of an emergency.

VUPD also offers security escorts for students that might be walking after dark and feel unsafe. They can be reached at 812-888-5555 at any time.

“The most important thing that I like for the students to know is that we’re like a small community and we need them the same way that the city of Vincennes needs neighborhood watch,” Dunham said. He encourages students to report any unusual or potentially dangerous behaviors and situations to the police. This helps them to better serve VU’s campus and understand the concerns of students.

Dunham encourages any student that is concerned about their safety for whatever reason to come to the police station and speak with him.

“[The students’ safety] is the highest priority we have,” said Dunham. “We have to make sure our kids feel safe so that doesn’t interfere with their ability to complete their education.”