Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


February 27, 2013

Campus Safety — Act Warner’s legislation important

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, R-Va., has reintroduced a bipartisan measure aimed at consolidating existing federal campus safety programs into a single National Center for Campus Public Safety. The proposed center would be charged with empowering campus law enforcement officials across the country with training, research and best practices aimed at increasing safety and preventing future campus violence.

The bipartisan measure makes good sense, and should be adopted by Congress.

Warner is also urging U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to utilize existing federal funds to establish the national center to aid campus and local law enforcement. Currently, campus public safety officers are the only first responders without a comprehensive federal support resource to share best practices, research and training, the Virginia lawmaker said.

Warner correctly points to the 2007 massacre on the campus of Virginia Tech, as well as the most recent school massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, as reason for the establishment of a national “one stop shop,” or information clearing house to provide campus safety officials across the country with the needed resources to improve safety and prevent future acts of violence.

“The key functions of the center would be to provide quality education and training to campus public safety agencies, develop protocols to respond to dangerous situations involving an immediate threat to the safety of campus communities, promote the development of effective behavioral threat assessment and management models, and increase collaboration among law enforcement, mental health and other agencies serving campus communities,” Warner wrote in a letter to Holder last week. “This effort enjoys bipartisan support both in the Senate and the House of Representatives and was included in the House-passed version of the Violence Against Women Act during the 112th Congress.”

Warner’s legislation appears to be well-intended, and shouldn’t be directly confused with the ongoing gun-control and Second Amendment debate. Anything that can be done on the local and federal level to improve the safety of college and school campuses should be fully embraced.

Just look at what has happened in our region. First there was the massacre on the campus of the Appalachian School of Law in 2002. Then we witnessed the horrific massacre on the campus of Virginia Tech in neighboring Blacksburg, Va., back in 2007.

We have no desire to see additional bloodshed in our region.

 Any and all efforts to enhance, strengthen, improve and bolster campus safety and security are welcomed, and should be actively pursued by local, state and federal lawmakers.

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