Sadly, it often takes a tragic event to highlight vulnerabilities and weaknesses. It took something as awful as the Virginia Tech massacre to make schools, students and parents more aware of the importance of emergency response plans and caused a huge push to add technology like mass notification systems. Virginia Tech prompted schools to dust off their emergency plans, refine them and start conducting regular drills, as well as better educate their staff and students about security procedures. I would bet most schools have conducted some form of an active-shooter drill because of Virginia Tech.
And there are lessons to be learned after the murder of University of Virginia student Yeardley Love allegedly by her ex-boyfriend, George Huguely. University officials were unaware that Huguely had been arrested in November 2008 on charges of public intoxication and resisting arrest. The arresting officer's report said Huguely had threatened to kill her and a female probation officer, and he had to be subdued with a stun gun, according to this article in the San Francisco Examiner.
Some say that having that information could have possibly prevented Love's murder.
If school officials had known about that arrest, University of Virginia President John Casteen said they might have been able to discipline Huguely and keep a closer eye on him. Instead, he said the incident highlighted not just a gap in the law, but "a hole you can drive a truck through."
I have to say I'm skeptical about such logic. Sure, knowing that Huguely had run into some trouble certainly couldn't have hurt, but would it have really stopped anything from happening?
Casteen is calling for a state law that would require police to report off-campus arrests of students to colleges and universities.
But law enforcement officials and some campus safety experts say such a law would be complicated and costly. They question what steps would be required to verify if a suspect was a student, either halfway across the state or halfway across the nation.
While I think schools in general work very closely with their local law enforcement agencies and probably do pass along that type of information, it really can't be expected that agencies beyond the local area will contact school officials when students have a run-in with the law. I would think the logistics would just be too difficult. And frankly, police are taxed enough as it is, should campus officials really be adding more to their plates?