September 6, 2007
Members of the Smith Community:
The college's crisis management plan is regularly updated to ensure that we manage effectively should a crisis occur. The current plan was updated a year ago and reviewed last spring in light of the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech. That incident raised questions such as:
Over the past few months we have reviewed a range of security enhancements relating to emergency notification systems, radio communications, the blue light phone system, door and window security, lighting and so on. The college is also considering the role of Smith's public safety officers when they encounter armed and violent situations, including the extent to which they should be armed. Currently Smith's officers are armed with pepper spray and batons, but they do not carry firearms.
To help us evaluate the college's response to violent situations, we have engaged a consultant, Operational Support Services Law Enforcement Advisors, to help us consider issues related to arming officers. The company has expertise in risk management, policy development and law enforcement training. The firm also has experience working with our insurer, United Educators, on legal matters resulting from gun incidents on campuses. When the consultant's review is completed this fall, the recommendations will help inform discussions we will hold on campus about the appropriate role for Smith's officers and firearms.
The consultants will meet with a number of staff, faculty and students over the next month. The firm will study campus and city crime statistics relative to national trends, and they will also meet with Northampton and state police to understand their capabilities, their response issues and their expectations of Smith's officers when they respond to a campus emergency. In addition, you can share your thoughts with us by e-mail. Messages sent to firstname.lastname@example.org will be read by both of us and carefully considered in the course of the review.
We are fortunate to have a good campus safety record and a good relationship with the nearby Northampton police department. In this context, we can study these issues carefully rather than confronting them during a crisis. Considering the appropriate level of arming for public safety officers is a challenging issue and one that we take seriously as part of our responsibility to the Smith community.
Vice President for Finance and Administration