Leadership reminds community of safety resources

December 10, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – In the wake of the recent violence in the U.S. and Europe, University officials are reminding the Penn State community of resources and other efforts designed to keep students, faculty and staff safe at all campuses.

“Penn State is committed to providing the safest possible campus environment for our students, faculty and staff, no matter which campus they call home,” said David Gray, senior vice president for Finance and Business. “Sadly, we are reminded regularly that it is not possible to entirely prevent violence in any community, however we can reduce the chance of violence by remaining vigilant and caring for ourselves and those around us.”

“Our goal is to promote a safe and secure place to learn, live and work across all campuses,” said Gray. “Our highest priority is the safety and well being of our students, faculty and staff.”

To help foster a safe and secure campus environment, the University has a number of programs in place to assist individuals, including Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), through Student Affairs. CAPS offers students free access to group therapy, individual counseling, crisis intervention and psychiatric services.

In addition to CAPS, each Penn State campus has a Behavioral Threat Management Team (BTMT) composed of members of the campus community, whose purpose is to mitigate risk through early intervention and offering help before a troubled individual harms themselves or others.

“We rely on members of the University community to let the right authorities know if they think someone might be experiencing trouble, so we can get them the help they need,” said Joe Puzycki, assistant vice president of student affairs. This might include an individual who has expressed a preoccupation with violence; who has become isolated and withdrawn; is exhibiting a significant change in coping skills, holding deep grudges or who may be exhibiting a lack of impulse control. Concerns can often be heightened if the individual is also suffering from other significant health related challenges such as deep depression or or suicidal thoughts, he said.

Puzycki said Penn Staters can report a concern any time by visiting http://btmt.psu.edu/contact/. If there is an imminent emergency, the community always should first call police by dialing 911.

“We take the possibility of any threat of violence extremely seriously,” said Tyrone Parham, director and chief of University Police. “We have a large, professional police force, including officers at each campus, that regularly trains for unusual situations that we hope will never happen. We also work very closely with local and regional police and emergency services across the Commonwealth, as well as the state police and FBI.”

Parham reviewed a number of safety measures already in place to protect students, faculty and staff, and to alert the Penn State community in case of an emergency, including:

  • Computerized card access systems at all residence halls at the University Park campus that only allow residents access to their own building;
  • Periodic meetings and emergency response training throughout the year with members of the University’s senior staff, police, fire, ambulance, emergency and communications personnel;
  • An existing policy, SY12 Weapons, Fireworks and Paintball Devices, that bans weapons on all University property except by law enforcement and authorized personnel;
  • Detailed plans to communicate in an emergency, including the PSUAlert text messaging system; and
  • A free online training program, “StaySAFE: Surviving an Active Shooter,” available to anyone with a Penn State access ID at http://StaySAFE.psu.edu/.

In the event of an active shooter situation, the StaySAFE program urges people to:

  • Search for an exit: Get to a safe place. Leave the area in the opposite direction from any shooter.
  • Alert the authorities: Call or text 911. Give as many details about what you saw or heard, as well as your current location. Do not assume that someone else has called – you may have new information for the police.
  • Find a place to hide: If you cannot leave, turn out the lights of the room you are in, lock or barricade the door and hide until help arrives. Avoid hallways, turn your cell phone on silent and remain as quiet as possible.
  • End the threat: This is a last resort when you have no other option, a life-or-death situation. Attempt to take the shooter out however you can. If you choose this option, do not hesitate and be decisive.

All Penn State students, faculty and staff members receive PSUAlert messages by email, and can choose to receive messages by text message or phone call as well by visiting http://PSUAlert.psu.edu/. At that address, users also can choose to receive alerts for multiple Penn State campuses. In the event of an emergency, PSUAlert will be used to provide the campus community with critical information.

Additional reporting information and community resources are available at http://news.psu.edu/story/360374/2015/06/11/message-faculty-staff-and-st....

Last Updated January 26, 2016