Monday, January 11, 2010

Campus Police Prove Mettle in Emergency Exercise

Guest blog by Paul Nowell

It’s an old adage that an admirable performance by police officers is akin to one turned in by a first-rate referee crew – they are usually doing a commendable job when they are scarcely noticed.

UNC Charlotte campus police did a first rate job last Tuesday and this time they WERE noticed.

Anyone who witnessed the full-scale emergency response exercise on Jan. 5 on the UNC Charlotte campus would come away impressed by the performance of our campus police. I did witness it and I would like to give them some well-deserved credit.

Those cheering the loudest included some veteran Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officers and representatives from the consulting firm that organized the exercise, EnviroSafe. These are not the sort of folks who worry about making you feel better about yourself.

On Jan. 5, UNC Charlotte Police officers were the first to respond to the simulated “active shooter” incident at Duke Centennial Hall near the Highway 29 entrance to the sprawling campus.

Arriving in a matter of minutes, they were in charge of the scene until CMPD officers arrived. Before long, one of the two assailants was detained and the other was located. The officers performed their duties impeccably.

Although there was one simulated “fatality” during the simulated siege, the "shooting" occurred before the UNC Charlotte police officers arrived on the scene. Another 33 volunteers played the role of injured; they were treated and transported to area hospitals.

The hostage ordeal ended without additional injuries to students, faculty or staff. And no one was injured as a result of a hazardous material investigation that was thrown into the mix by EnviroSafe to test the overall response.

“I think it went really well. The collaborative effort out at the scene was really compelling,” Major Jeff Baker of the UNC Charlotte Police said following the exercise.

The simulation, sponsored by the Risk Management, Safety and Security Department in conjunction with Homeland Security, was designed to test the readiness of University departments, campus and local police, the fire department, local hospitals and other first-responders.

The bottom line is that the UNC Charlotte police officers were properly trained and prepared to handle their part of the crisis. By participating in a simulated “active shooter” exercise, valuable lessons were learned.

I came away from the day’s events with far more respect for all the law enforcement, fire and emergency officials – including our campus police. It’s no surprise that they are dedicated public servants. But now I’ve seen them in action and my respect is even greater.

Paul Nowell is Media Relations Manager in UNC Charlotte’s Office of Public Relations.

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