By Kelsi Peace, Features Editor
In light of the Virginia Tech shootings Monday, colleges across the nation are discussing their campus security, and ACU is no different.
Jimmy Ellison, chief of police, said the tragedy gave reason to examine the university’s crisis response plans, which were in place long before Monday.
In a situation like the Virginia Tech massacre, Ellison said ACU police would first respond to the shooting and would determine whether or not it was over.
If the shooting is ongoing, Ellison said police would enter the building and engage the shooter to end the massacre. In an extreme situation, Ellison said the Abilene Police Department could be called to the scene as well.
“You can have all the plans that you want,” Ellison said, “But every scenario is different.”
In addition to the ACU police’s crisis response plans, the university also has a Crisis Response Team composed of administrators, faculty, ACU police and representatives from support offices that meets quarterly to discuss crisis scenarios and recent trends and to further develop the university’s response.
The university can communicate with students, faculty and staff through email, internally on the myACU page and externally on the ACU home page.
Ellison said these methods are used in less extreme situations, such as the severe winter weather that canceled classes at the beginning of the semester.
In severe instances, Ellison said the PA system in the Tower of Light could be used for announcements.
“We reserve that for extreme circumstances,” Ellison said, explaining that the university doesn’t want to “cry wolf” too many times.
The department has also been considering purchasing programming that will send instant text messages across campus. The department has been “exploring the possibility actively” for a few months, Ellison said.
The immediacy of text messaging in a generation of students very connected to their cell phones makes the technology a tool guaranteed to reach students in situations e-mail and Internet announcements might not, Ellison said.
“[Monday’s] incident just underscores the need,” he said.
Ellison emphasized that the ACU campus is safe, and the police department is professionally staffed 24 hours a day.
While the administration has the responsibility to have a crisis response plan, Ellison said, students, faculty and staff also need to think about their own responses.
“We’re here to protect,” Ellison said, “But we need students to do their part.”
Ellison said this includes thinking ahead, being observant and alert and reporting suspicious behavior.
“We would much rather respond and find out it is nothing,” Ellison said.
Monday’s tragedy also serves to remind students that a tragedy can happen anywhere.
“No plan is capable of addressing the carnage that occurred at Virginia Tech,” Ellison said. “We are part of the world, and things can happen.”