By Amber Ward –
In light of past incidences at other universities, Tarleton Police Chief Justin Williams recently discussed the university’s preparedness for emergency situations like a shooter or violent person on campus.
“We have had the necessary training to deal with an emergency situation,” said Williams.
Williams and his department have been trained by instructors on how to handle violent situations. The training included active shooter responses and tactics that are also taught to the military.
“We have two instructors that teach others on how to teach the training courses for this; in fact there are eight of these trainers in the state of Texas and we have two of them right here at Tarleton.” Williams said.
He said Tarleton officers also have the equipment to handle such emergency situations and recently received new equipment to boost their previous collection.
“Our patrols got rifles last month,” said Williams.
Williams continued by explaining Tarleton has received no threats that he could remember in many years, if ever, except for those dealing with a play at the university last spring.
“The only threats that Tarleton has received are those from last spring about the Corpus Christi play and it ended up that nothing happened,” said Williams.
The process of alerting the campus community was also discussed. Williams explained the police department uses Code Purple and emails to alert students and staff of major issues on campus, and hopes someday to install speakers in buildings and have an intercom system as an additional way to alert individuals on campus.
Williams also mentioned that they would like to use the smart boards in classrooms to flash messages in the event of an emergency.
“One of the problems with this last shooter at the University of Texas was that the campus was having problems with their notification system to alert students and faculty about the situation,” said Williams.
“We would respond as quickly as possible,” Williams said about his department’s response time to violent situations.
He said the police department is trained for these situations, but the type of situation would play a major factor in the way officers responded. The ability of officers to be on scene would depend on the relay of time of the original emergency message.
Williams explained a message could potentially go through several mediums before it was delivered to his officers, ultimately taking anywhere from five to ten minutes, if not more, depending on the receiver of the original message and the time it took to relay it.
Williams was also asked if the police department would be obtaining tasers for use.
“We would only get tasers if we actually needed them and, honestly, we don’t need them,” Williams said.
He said cost was not a factor in the purchase of the tasers, but the necessity to use such equipment, which is typically associated with force.
“There is no need to spend the money on them,” said Williams.
Williams also answered a question concerning safety on Tarleton’s Stephenville campus.
“I would say we are very safe,” he said.
Compared to other universities of different size and area, campus crime statistics are lower than many others and UCR crimes are reported only once or twice a month on average.
Williams closed the discussion by saying he knows of the negativity towards him and his department and he dislikes it, but he does understand some of it.
“I feel it and it does get frustrating, however, it is more rewarding being at Tarleton than working as a city cop,” Williams said.
Williams is a Tarleton alumni and a former Plowboy who came back to Stephenville to raise his son. Having been a Tarleton student and being the Tarleton police chief now, Williams hopes that the negativity towards campus police will lessen over time.