#parent | #kids | Keeping college students, staff safe in Arkansas | #College. | #Students

A shooting on a college campus is a worst-case scenario, but universities across the state remain prepared and ready to act.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — As college kids prepare to head back to school, we look into a topic that is on a lot of parents’ minds.

It’s a worst-case scenario, but one we have seen happen across the country: a shooting on college campuses.

Thomas Forcum is the SGA President at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. His drive to advocate for better student life pushed him to the job.

“You know, there’s always that question like what will happen if one day I come to class and all of a sudden you hear gunshots,” Forcum said.

He and other students have brought in the Department of Public Safety to re-enforce security on campus through defense classes and strengthen the security measures that are already in place.

If a threat were to happen on campus, students and staff are alerted immediately through text messages.

Forcum wants to take it a step further. He is working to create an app that will in turn let students alert the police immediately if there’s danger.

“If some kind of event was going on,” Forcum said. “Just click a button in that app [and it’ll] immediately alert officers that there was an issue on campus, as well as, provide officers with GPS location for those students.”

It’s a scenario that hits close to home, especially in Conway. 

In 2008, the University of Central Arkansas had a shooting on campus. Two students were killed and the suspects were arrested.

“After that, you know, we started pushing the emergency notifications and the active shooter training for officers,” UCA Police Department Sgt. Michael Hopper said.

Hopper said officers are required to go through yearly rapid response training.

Officers train on and off campus, which allows them to become familiar with the university’s layout. The training also helps with situational awareness if there was an active shooter or threat.

“What are we looking for? Sights, sounds, smells… those sorts of things,” Hopper said. “Do we smell any gunpowder or anything that would indicate something has gone on? Is it chaos in the building?”  

They also teach people how to protect themselves when on campus too.

It’s a strategy of “avoid, hide, fight.” It is recommended if there is an active threat, “avoid” the area in question or get out of the building; “Hide” or barricade yourself in a room or area; and if necessary, “fight” to protect yourself.

Every Arkansas college and university has safety policies and statistics. It’s called the Clery Annual Report.

For UCA’s report, you can click here and for UALR’s report, click here.

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