Covering Kentucky

Apr 28, 2013 7:18 PM

HCC Adds Behavior Assessment Team For Safety

HENDERSON, Ky. (AP) - In an effort to increase campus safety, officials at Henderson Community College have formed a behavior assessment team.

Patty Mitchell, who is the college's dean of student affairs, said the team's purpose is to identify any person on campus who is exhibiting threatening behavior toward themselves or others.

The Gleaner (http://bit.ly/10A69qi) reports that Mitchell says school employees will be trained in how to determine whether behavior is threatening.

She says they will "be the eyes and ears of campus to help report unusual types of behavior to our team for us to follow up in whatever manner we feel is appropriate at that point."

Officials say shootings do happen at community colleges, noting a deadly one at Hazard Community College in January.

Kris Williams, who served as interim president at Hazard Community College before being named president at Henderson Community College, said it is a reminder that tragedy can strike anywhere.

"People just seem to be turning to guns sometimes to solve their problems," Williams said. "It gave us the opportunity to stop once again review our practices and think about the next steps we should take."

The school began forming the behavior assessment team in the fall, and this spring Henderson Police Lt. Chip Stauffer led instruction on crisis intervention training for about 55 faculty and staff members.

Currently, officials are finalizing a mechanism that allows suspicious or threatening behavior to be reported to the assessment team. Mitchell says the hope is to have it in place by the end of the spring semester.

HCC already keeps a log of crimes that are committed on campus.

"We have very few," said Jerry Gentry, HCC's chief business affairs officer.

The school also reports campus crimes to employees, students and the public in a timely manner.

"We have very few disciplinary issues to deal with," said Gentry. "Students have to pay to come to us rather than be required to be here by law. So if they act up and we don't want them here, we tell them to leave."

Police suggested that college workers participate in crisis intervention training, and Williams said teachers especially may need that skill.

"If a student is inappropriate in a classroom, they need to have the skills to react and de-escalate the situation," Williams said.

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Information from: The Gleaner, http://www.thegleaner.com/

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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