Krystal Fitzpatrick is the interim chief of police for the University of Illinois and also the interim executive director of public safety.
Photo by Bill Wiegand
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Krystal Fitzpatrick is the interim chief of police for the University of Illinois and also the interim executive director of public safety, the campus unit that oversees the Office of Campus Emergency Planning, and Campus Risk Management. A member of the U. of I. Police Department since 1977, Fitzpatrick has been on the campus emergency operations committee since 1995.
So many stories have appeared in the media about the bizarre behavior of the man responsible for the massacre at Virginia Tech - well before the day the shootings took place. While no one expects the police to be able to prevent these sorts of crimes, are there things people can do to help reduce their likelihood?
One of the most critical and important steps is for people to immediately report their observations to someone in authority. Many are reluctant to do this for fear of "getting someone in trouble." Trust your instincts. At Illinois we have a standing committee that meets monthly. That committee has representatives from the Counseling Center, the U. of I. Police, Human Resources and Legal Counsel. Together we assess behavior that has been reported to units and make sure the appropriate response is generated to assist the individual and prevent potential problematic behaviors. The police respond immediately to such reports but then follow up with this committee to make certain all issues are being addressed.
What steps do you expect campuses, including the University of Illinois, will take as a result of this horrific event?
We will continue our emphasis on having units create emergency operation plans that can be used for a variety of emergencies; we are formulating guidelines for faculty, staff and students on what to do if we faced a situation similar to what took place at Virginia Tech. This will include discussion about instructing individuals on how to secure in place as well as evacuation. We feel it's important that everyone take the time to reflect on 'what if?' and 'what would I do?' as well as to be aware of the resources we have available to address these issues. Additionally, our police continue to plan and train in effective responses to crises.
One issue that already has been widely discussed as a result of this event is how best to communicate with people on campus. Is that something the university is taking a look at, and, if so, what options are there?
We have just completed the process of identifying an emergency communication system that can be used to send out information through a variety of methods such as calls to hard line as well as cell phones, text messages, e-mail, and pages. We hope to have the system operating within the near future. We must make certain that how we use this system doesn't interfere with the ability of emergency responders to communicate with each other and at the same time delivers a message to the maximum number of people. We currently use the university's e-mail system, telephone trees and local television and radio to get our message out quickly. Even with a new electronic communication system in place, we will continue to use a variety of methods to get our emergency messages.