ASU reviews safety effort to prevent bloodshed - East Valley Tribune: News

ASU reviews safety effort to prevent bloodshed

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Posted: Tuesday, March 18, 2008 10:51 pm | Updated: 12:53 pm, Wed Feb 29, 2012.

For nearly a year, ASU officials have discussed worst-case scenarios. In particular, what can Arizona State University do to prevent bloodshed on its four campuses? And if a safety emergency occurs, how can the university minimize, or even prevent, serious injuries?

Answers have been slow in coming.

ASU President Michael Crow formed a committee in October to study investigations of the massacre at Virginia Tech last April and recommend safety upgrades for Arizona State.

But that committee missed two deadlines for finishing its report, originally due Dec. 10, and top university officials continue work on the document. "It's being reviewed by levels above me at this point," said Allen Clark, assistant chief of ASU's police department and the committee's co-chair.

The university now expects to release a final report at the end of the month, said Terri Shafer, an ASU spokeswoman.

ASU disavowed the one proposal that became public, which might have required some students to disclose their mental health histories. Such a requirement would require Congress to change federal student and medical privacy laws.

Crow said the university will not require students to provide private medical information, but is researching ways to determine when a student might be a danger to himself and others.

Even without the committee's work, ASU has taken steps to better protect its 64,000 students and roughly 13,000 employees.

University police have benefited most. Some officers are now armed with assault rifles, and the department operates from a new building. And ASU received funds for some long-overdue upgrades, particularly to its radio communications.

"The current system used by the ASU Police Department is beyond its useful life cycle and risks system failure and significant maintenance costs," Paul Ward, the university's general counsel, wrote to the Arizona Board of Regents last summer. The regents voted to provide ASU $4.6 million to purchase a new digital radio system.

The committee's final report might call for additional improvements. Clark said little work remains to be done before the report's release.

"Grammatical changes are being made, those kinds of things," he said.

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