A mass shooting Monday at Virginia Tech caused Kansas University officials to take a closer look at their own security measures.
"We are going to look at the system we have in place and learn where we need to make improvements," said Todd Cohen, director of the Office of University Relations.
KU's Department of Public Safety referred questions to Cohen, who declined to comment specifically about how police would respond to a similar shooting incident for security reasons. Campus police train with the Lawrence Police Department and Douglas County Sheriff's Office on how to handle major incidents, he said.
"We would rely heavily on them to be part of any response," Cohen said.
All Lawrence police officers go through an intensive two-day training course that involves engaging armed role players, Lawrence Police Capt. David Cobb said. The course is taught by city and KU officers.
"Speed is the basis for the training in this type of situation," Cobb said. "The training prepares the officers to respond to the location with a tactical response where a suspect is actively firing a weapon at people."
Cobb noted that one of the problems Virginia officers faced was that the suspect chained the doors closed, limiting entry to those officers who arrived first on campus.
KU regularly conducts training exercises for a variety of emergencies, Cohen said. Emergency response plans are continually updated.
"It's the kind of thing that we are always doing," he said.
KU will be watching to see how Virginia Tech planned for and responded to the latest crisis, Cohen said.
"After Columbine, (public) schools changed," he said, referring to the April 20, 1999, mass shooting at a Colorado high school. "They reviewed procedures and learned what they needed to do, and I'm sure that will be the same situation here."
Virginia Tech had loudspeakers on its campus as part of a warning system, and KU is interested in knowing whether they were used and how well they worked, Cohen said. He declined to say specifically how KU would warn students, faculty and staff about a shooting incident somewhere on campus.
"There's different systems," he said. "There are a lot of electronic ways of reaching people. We have to have multiple layers of contacting people even if it is through e-mail, Web site, electronic bulletin board, instant messaging. That's something we are looking at."
Cohen said it is premature to say campus buildings might one day use metal detectors at entrances the same way many courthouses use them.
"There are so many things to look at," he said. "It's unbelievable how horrible this is."
The KU campus already has a good system of deterring nonextreme crime using different methods and systems that include surveillance cameras, Cohen said. Overall, campus crime has been declining in recent years, he said.