What the UNCC shooting is teaching area colleges and universities

Colleges, universities talk school safety in wake of UNCC shooting

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The shooting at UNC Charlotte on April 30 is the type of incident that makes every police department pay attention.

For universities and colleges in the Carolinas, the campus shooting - that claimed two lives and injured four others – is especially haunting.

“It hits close to home just because geographically we work with a lot of the people that are directly impacted,” said Assistant Chief Wes Wiles of Winthrop University Police in Rock Hill.

Wiles says he only knows the details of the shooting that have been made public. But, from that information, Wiles says there are lessons learned.

“What I can say is it looks like when a plan is in place - in action -that you can see how multiple different agencies can respond, utilize their training and have as much a successful outcome as can be expected in an already chaotic situation,” said Assistant Chief Wiles. “It looked like the students themselves – from the immediate people that were actually in the classroom and the actions they may have taken - to the students listening to the alerts and bolos that were put out and following the instructions that were given to them. Those things look like they came well into place and were put in place quickly and efficiently by the University police dept and the directions were followed.”

Queens University in Charlotte told WBTV that “The UNC Charlotte tragedy has caused every higher education institution to evaluate what can be done to maximize the security of its students, faculty and staff. At Queens University in Charlotte, we are assessing every phase of our current campus safety plan from emergency response preparedness to crisis communications.”

Wingate University in Union County say they know “a shooting can happen at Wingate just as it can happen anywhere.” The University says before the shooting at UNCC, they had “a response plan and a 16-member team charged with its implementation.”

The school says their Crisis Management Response Plan includes a specific active-shooter protocol.

In addition, Wingate University say their “Crisis Management Team meets periodically to assess vulnerabilities, update and improve our plan and organize drills. The team trains using the Incident Command System, a standardized approach to the command, control and coordination of emergency response.”

Winthrop University Police, with 17 sworn officers and other civilians, say they train on their own and also sometimes with Rock Hill Police and York County Sheriff’s Office.

“We have different locations where we do active shooter training,” said Assistant Chief Wiles. “Some of those locations do occur on campus.”

Wiles says their active shooter plans “are similar to what was used there (UNCC). They have some resources that maybe we don’t necessarily have.”

Is there something Winthrop University Police need to change or add to their active-shooter plan?

“Our plan in place now we’re comfortable with it," said Assistant Chief Wiles. “We’re always looking to see if anything can be tweaked or changed somewhat but as of right now we don’t necessarily have anything in place to change from our current set up.”

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