Campus security varies at University of Nebraska campuses

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May 12, 2011 - 7:00pm

With the shootings at Von Maur and Millard South High School fresh in Omaha's memory, KVNO News' reporter Dan Jensen investigated how safe the University of Nebraska - Omaha would be in a similar situation.

The first factor in a school shooting is response time. Campus Security at UNO takes about three minutes to respond to an emergency call. They only have lights on their vehicles and no sirens, so getting from end of campus to the other takes some time. The manager of UNO's campus security, Paul Kosel, said, "We'd just become eyes and ears for the Omaha police who'd be en route to campus, and once they got here, we'd go ahead and let them start to do what they can do to take and resolve the situation."

The average response time of the Omaha Police to get to campus is five minutes. That means, if an emergency call was made, it could take up to eight minutes before the Omaha Police would arrive on campus.

Comparatively, at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, all Campus Police are sworn officers. All have training to properly handle a firearm, which they all carry. According to Aaron Pembleton, the Education and Crime Prevention officer at UNL, each officer goes through an active shooter training exercise every year. Instead of waiting for police to arrive, the officers on Lincoln's campus would actively seek out the shooter and try to stop them.

While the Campus Police at UNL go through active shooter training and training to carry a firearm, Campus Security at UNO goes through pressure point control tactics training. According to Kosel, this allows them to handle handcuffs, a collapsible baton, and pepper spray.

These stark differences raise the question: why does UNL have campus police, while UNO has campus security? Bill Conley, the Vice Chancellor of Business and Finance at UNO, said there was a study conducted in 2008 by an outside consultant group that recommended UNO stay as a campus security university.

Campus Security Manager Paul Kosel, however, recommended the exact opposite. "I do know that they've discussed that before within University, and I've recommended that they do in fact have all police departments on all campus locations, but there's a lot of things involved with just saying that, compared to actually carrying that out."

Many factors should be taken into account when determining whether a university stay as campus security or make the transition to campus police. Chris Blake, the VP of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, listed several reasons, including the student population, where the university is located, the number of buildings and special events.

Another factor to take into consideration is cost. The Director of Support Services at UNO, Stan Schliefer said, "Very roughly I'd say our budget right now for campus security personnel is about $1.4 million, and I think some rough estimates we got from the consultant group that came in said that budget would almost double."

With budget cuts and crunches, it's doubtful UNO will make the transition anytime soon.

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