COURTESY PHOTO: ROSEBURG NEWS-REVIEW - Douglas County and Roseburg law enforcement officers searched buildings on the Umpqua Community College campus after the Oct. 1, 2015, shooting that killed nine people, including the gunman. A state work group has recommended ways to improve safety on college campuses across the state.SALEM — A work group formed in the wake of last fall's shooting at Umpqua Community College has recommended the state certification of campus security officers, creating a state council on campus security and making building security upgrades.

A 26-year-old student opened fire on the campus north of Roseburg Oct. 1, killing nine people and injuring nine others.

Gov. Kate Brown formed the work group, charging it with finding ways to pool resources and to replicate best practices for responding to and preventing active shooter events and other campus dangers. She selected membership from higher education institutions and law enforcement agencies.

EO MEDIA GROUPThe group delivered its draft recommendations to her Thursday.

“I am committed, regardless of our financial situation, to fight for the resources that you all need to make sure we have the tools on campus to ensure safety for our students at every single college around the state,” Brown told the group Thursday.

The cost of enhancing security at campus buildings would likely exceed $20 million, according to preliminary estimates by the work group. In addition to electronic surveillance, an option is to give access to buildings only to students and staff with chip cards, said group Chairman Andre LeDuc, chief resilience officer at the University of Oregon.

“It’s very expensive to put in old buildings,” LeDuc said.

Another recommendation would require state certification for campus safety officers through the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training. Certification gives officers more advanced and consistent training, said work group member Phil Zerzan, chief of campus public safety at Portland State University.

Officers now have no certification and are required to take only eight hours of probable cause training. While many receive additional training, the content can vary between different colleges and universities, Zerzan said.

The group identified a need to standardize training for incident response and recovery at campuses, develop campus and regional incident management teams and establish a higher education-specific disaster relief online resource center.

Group members also may recommend creating and funding statewide threat assessment teams to identify at-risk students before a tragedy occurs.

They want lawmakers to create a higher education safety and resilience council to follow up on the recommendations and identify future needs, LeDuc said.

"Task forces, though they’re great, a lot of times they end up on the shelf," Brown said. "What we don’t want to do is to end up leaving this on the shelf so I think the suggestion about a council for accountability makes a lot of sense.”

State agencies could implement some of recommendations without legislative action. Others, such as approving funding for building security enhancements, could be proposed to lawmakers over the next several years, LeDuc said.

The group plans to vote on the final recommendations before issuing a final report by the end of October, LeDuc said.

By Paris Achen
Portland Tribune Capital Bureau Reporter
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