Are lawmen prepared for a college emergency in Albany? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Are lawmen prepared for a college emergency in Albany?

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May 8, 2007

Albany -- Could a murder spree like one at Virginia Tech happen on a South Georgia college campus? Police say it could happen anywhere, at anytime, but would we be prepared?

 That's why Dozens of lawmen and first responders met at Albany State University Tuesday, to build plans of action should a disaster hit one of the three Albany college campuses. A peaceful day at Albany State University, with most of the students home between semesters.

 A far different scene from April 16th in Blacksburg, Virginia, when a Virginia Tech student gunned down 32 people before killing himself. Albany State University Police Chief Roberson Brown said the tragedy led him to call together law enforcement heads and first responders, with one question? Chief Brown said "what if that happens here?"

For an answer lawmen, fire department, EMS, hospital, and other first responders met with Security Heads from Albany State University, Darton College, and Albany Technical College, to come together and build plans of action in case of disaster, from shootings to tornadoes.

 Brown wants South Georgia to learn from the Virginia Tech tragedy. Chief Brown said "when I saw what happened at Virginia Tech, I saw a lot of confusion among law enforcement agencies, and finger pointing."

Today the first responders asked questions about how to stop confusion in times of emergency, and how to best handle problems that Virginia Tech officials faced, like putting out emergency messages across a large campus to thousands of people, and how to lockdown a campus. Chief Brown said "we don't want our campus to become a fortress, but at the same time we want to also provide security. That we can lock the classrooms down, we can stop the pedestrian traffic and vehicle traffic."

The lawmen talked about using the resources of each department, and developing more complete plans of action working together. SWAT Commander Captain Mack Green said "yes, I think it's very helpful. It's something we need to get together and do more often."

Sheriff Jamil Saba said he thinks it is a great idea for all the lawmen and first responders to set up cooperation plans, because they could be used in many areas. Sheriff Saba said "there is a lot of people who have been killed in work places, so you have got that problem there. And hospitals, and so."

 Lawmen hoping a tragedy like Virginia Tech never happens here, but preparing in case.

Chief Brown said he plans to hold a practice drill on the Albany State Practice, to continue working with other law enforcement in Dougherty County on emergency response preparation.

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