New procedures to emit updated assessments

Brandon Zeris, Managing Editor

Pitt-Johnstown emergency procedures have been updated to better communicate with students, faculty and staff in response to criticism regarding a Sept. 13 shooting at the Richland Township Municipal Building.

Shooting details were not made public by Pitt-Johnstown administrators until nearly 11 hours after the event took place.

Due to the negative responses, all future critical incidents and emergencies are to yield a campuswide e-mail informing community members of the situation, said Institutional and Community Relations Associate Vice President Bob Knipple.

“I didn’t realize there was so much worry across campus,” Knipple said, adding that he hopes that the increased communication will reduce speculation and rumors about such incidents.

Campus President Jem Spectar apologized for the lack of information to faculty at a Sept. 19 Faculty Senate meeting and said that people should have been made aware of the situation.

Knipple said critical incidents and emergencies are gauged, and responses are dictated by a Critical Incident Response Team, comprised mostly of administrators.

Critical incident guidelines state that incidents presenting no ongoing threat warrant a need for communication, but Knipple said that the guidelines were not absolute.

“It’s situation-specific,” he said. “All (Critical Incident Response Team members) are contacted when something occurs and we meet and discuss what to do.”

There are no specific procedures for shootings in the guide, but Knipple said that excluding some scenarios and details is advantageous for campus safety because responses wouldn’t be able to be predicted by someone wanting to commit a crime.

“We didn’t put specific details in the guide because it could be used against us,” he said.

The guidelines are reviewed and updated every August to take new occurrences into account, Knipple said.

“We review the plan and go through training sessions,” he said. “We go through simulated incidents. We had one over the summer to go over a shooting.”

The 2012 Critical Incident Response Guide features more bomb threat guidelines, in light of Pitt-Oakland’s threats.

The Pitt-Johnstown community shouldn’t worry if another emergency occurs on or near campus, Knipple said.

“Other emergency services would be brought in,” he said, citing the Cambria County Emergency Management Service.

Knipple said that students and faculty can help themselves stay safe by educating themselves and learning about the guidelines on Pitt-Johnstown’s website.

“It will only help them be safe,” he said.