Representatives of all Dutchess County Colleges attended a meeting called last week by Senator Steve Saland (R,I,C Poughkeepsie) to discuss safety and security issues in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech tragedy. The meeting was hosted at The Culinary Institute of America by President Tim Ryan and attended by representatives of the administrations of Bard College, The Culinary Institute of America, Dutchess Community College, Marist College, Vassar College, their chiefs of campus security, and representatives of state, county and local law enforcement.
Included among the issues discussed were student and faculty preparedness, notification systems, communications and coordination with local law enforcement in regard to containing immediate threats and violence on campuses.
"College campuses are generally considered safe places. That does not, however, mean that crime or violence may not occur there. Given their open atmosphere and the recent tragedy that took place at Virginia Tech, I thought it important to call a meeting with law enforcement and college officials to discuss safety and security on local college campuses and what reviews and protocols could enhance current systems," said Senator Saland. "I greatly appreciate the involvement of local law enforcement. The participation and leadership of Sheriff Butch Anderson, Troop K State Police Major Bill Carey, Town of Poughkeepsie Police Chief Pete Wilkinson, and Hyde Park Police Chief Jim McKenna are critical to this effort."
"Security and emergency response procedures are foremost on the mind of college and university communities locally and nationally," said Marist College President Dennis J. Murray. "We’re grateful to Senator Saland for bringing our student services and security teams together with local law enforcement. In Dutchess County, we are fortunate to have first-rate public safety agencies on the local, county, and state levels. This session went a long way toward enhancing communication among all parties and strengthening already close working relationships."
The panel agreed to reconvene in three months to discuss the progress that has been made in improving safety and security and to determine what steps should be taken to help prevent such violence as well as identifying best practices to be adopted to respond to campus emergencies.