UMKC Police Hope Plan Would Avert Virginia-Tech-Type Tragedy
By Steve Bell
Kansas City, MO – On the UMKC campus, as on every campus across America, there was an undercurrent this week of the realization: "it could have happened here."
UMKC Campus Police Chief Scott Shelton says law enforcement learns from unfortunate incidents like the multiple shootings at Austin, Columbine and Virginia Tech, and he and others are constantly putting that knowledge into plans and systems. Shelton says, for example, UMKC has appointed building liaison contacts for critical incident communication.
The liason people have assistants who fill in in their absence, and who are to relay information, for example about a lockdown or "shelter in place" situation to everyone in the building.
Chief Shelton says the best time to deal with violent incidents is before they happen. And that UMKC has in place a panel that is designed to do just that. It's called the Case Management Group.
He says the Case Management Group has diverse membership with a wide range of expertise, including law enforcement, residential living and counseling. The group evaluates known problem cases, such as a student behaving badly or a person known to be dealing ineffectively with a stressful situation. Resources such as counseling can be made available, and if necessary the person can be confronted by campus police officers.
The chief says his officers are trained in intervention, and that excellent counseling resources have been engaged. But, he says, none of that helps unless members of a vigilant community tell police about persons who are behaving strangely or about to break under stress.
Shelton says if a student, faculty member or staff employee sees someone behaving strangely or making violent threats... or a stranger behaving suspiciously in or near a campus building, he recommends that the campus police be made aware of the situation. He adds, "If your intuition tells you something isn't right, it probably isn't."