In the wake of Thursday’s shooting and two deaths at Virginia Tech, University of Wisconsin System President Kevin Reilly reassures parents and students Wisconsin campuses are safe and secure.
UW-Madison Police Chief Sue Riseling briefed the Board of Regents about the system’s security and safety measures. “Years ago we used to set parameters and we used to kind of wait the bad guys out. Today the bad guys come with such an arsenal that you can’t wait.”
Immediately following the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech which resulted in 32 deaths and 25 injuries, Riseling chaired a taskforce to work on preventive efforts at the UW System. She said there was a tremendous amount of training in rapid deployment for all police officers at the state’s 26 universities and colleges. Also, she stressed, communication is vital, so it had to be streamlined.
Riseling said students and their ability to instantly tweet can be helpful. She called them “quicker than quick,” saying, “I learned working at the Capitol how quickly a crowd of 80,000 can tweet each other and let everybody know what’s going on. So the students will help you here. The downside is they also tweet false information. So that’s still a struggle for us.”
Riseling said most campuses now have the capability to quickly send out electronic messages via various types of social networking. But, the real test is whether they can do it under stress. In 2005 it took two hours to send out mass emails; that’s been trimmed to less than ten minutes. Text messages are even faster — under six minutes.
The emergency text message system resides not in the dispatch center which would be overwhelmed with 911 calls, but at a special command center where seconds count.
AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:48