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College reviews emergency procedures in wake of massacre

In the wake of the Virginia Tech University shootings Monday, April 16, college officials at Mt. Hood Community College say they are reviewing their safety procedures, said Al Sigala, spokesman.

'It does touch anyone who is attending or works at a college or university throughout the country,' Sigala said of the worst shooting massacre in U.S. history, in which a student shot 32 students to death and then killed himself.

College staff members have held several meetings to discuss how the Virginia Tech tragedy relates to Mt. Hood's own security situation.

In an emergency, Sigala said, staff and students can be told what to do via an intercom system. In some cases that may mean evacuating a building; in other cases, staying in classrooms or offices. The college also can e-mail staff members with emergency information, he said.

'In an emergency, local police are notified immediately,' Sigala said, noting the college has good relations with Gresham police as well as the police in Troutdale, where one of the school's two campuses is located. Sigala said both police departments periodically do drive-throughs on the campuses.

The college also has an 'Emergency Procedures' booklet that addresses a variety of possible situations, ranging from bomb threats to earthquakes, and including violent behavior. The booklet is posted in all offices on campus, and such information is available on the campus Web site at www.mhcc.edu/pages/1397.asp.

In the event of an emergency, the college can notify family members using the emergency contact information each student and staff member is required to provide.

No weapons of any type are allowed on campus, Sigala said, and the college's eight-member security force does not carry weapons. College security employees - some of whom are former police officers - are trained in various police procedures but are not themselves police officers.

'We are and continue to have an open-door policy,' Sigala said. 'You also have to remember that this type of situation, while very devastating, is also fortunately very rare.'

According to information posted on the campus Web site, the biggest crime problem from 2003-05 was not violence, but motor vehicle theft, which occurred 62 times in that period.

There also were 17 burglaries reported in the same period; one incident of arson in 2003; one nonforcible sex offense in 2003; and one robbery in 2005. There were two incidents of illegal weapons possession, one in 2004, and one in 2005.

The worst crime in recent memory connected with the campus occurred Jan. 16, 1980.

Barbara Tucker, a 19-year-old Mt. Hood Community College student, was raped and bludgeoned to death while walking from her apartment on Northeast 23rd Street to a class.

A student found her body early Jan. 16 in some shrubs next to a parking lot on the southwest corner of campus. Tucker was studying business management is believed to have been murdered on her way to a night class. Her purse and a few books were found near her body.

No arrests have been made in the crime, which is classified as a cold case.