Published: Aug. 2, 2013

Campus community focuses on safety, emergency planning


A pair of events this summer highlights Michigan State University’s ongoing efforts to provide a safe and secure campus, as well as identify those in the campus community who may be in need of help.

On Aug. 5-6, the MSU Police Department is hosting the annual conference for Big Ten Emergency Managers. Representatives from across the conference will discuss topics ranging from disaster response, lessons from past violent incidents and how to best handle special events on campus.

Capt. Penny Fischer, who leads MSU Police’s Emergency Management and Special Events Division, is organizing the conference. She said while high-profile incidents across the country momentarily shine a spotlight on campus emergencies, it’s vital that training is a continuing process.

“While we have a very robust emergency plan here at MSU, it’s important we continue to pull together our colleagues and experts and look at how we can do things better,” Fischer said. “The time to plan for emergencies is when there isn’t an imminent danger.”

As part of that effort, MSU Police Capt. Doug Monette organized a three-day symposium July 29-31 focusing on mental health and threat assessment. The event, which was free to the campus community, drew more than 150 participants and featured experts from the U.S. Secret Service, FBI, other university police departments and national leaders in evaluating threats.

Attendees learned valuable lessons from past incidents such as the Northern Illinois University shooting in 2008 and Columbine in 1999, as well as new techniques in evaluating behaviors that may be a threat to the campus community. There were representatives from across the university and local community, from law enforcement to counseling to housing services.

“To see the campus so well represented was very exciting,” Monette said. “To have an open dialogue and share information is important in securing the safety of our students and employees.

“Threat assessment focuses on troubling behavior and works on ways to mitigate risks. This is a collective effort, and it is important for all of us to work together.”

For more information on emergency planning at MSU, visit

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