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UW-Eau Claire Continues Emergency Response Plan Revisions in Wake of Virginia Tech Tragedy

RELEASED: Aug. 27, 2007

University Police bade, patrol carEAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire is continuing to review and revise its emergency response plans following the tragic events at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., this past spring. University police and safety officials, in conjunction with university administration, the city of Eau Claire, appropriate regional emergency response authorities and UW System administration, have engaged in an ongoing comprehensive evaluation of campus safety and emergency preparedness.

Since the events at Virginia Tech, UW-Eau Claire has:

  • Participated in both the UW System president's 2007 Commission on University Security and the Governor's Task Force on Campus Safety
  • Reviewed the Emergency Contingency Plan for campus response
  • Discussed campus safety issues with students at a Chancellor's Roundtable
  • Reviewed internal University Police emergency response protocols
  • Reviewed mutual assistance protocols with the city of Eau Claire police and fire departments
  • Held a University Police/Eau Claire Police Department joint crisis negotiation and tactical response team training exercise on campus
  • Planned an exercise that will be held in early fall to test existing emergency response procedures
  • Begun the process of evaluating emergency communication systems to quickly and effectively communicate emergency information to the entire campus.

In addition, University Police, in consultation with Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich, has reviewed and updated its use-of-force policy to authorize the use of the Taser electronic control device (ECD) on a probationary basis.

Use of electronic control devices by University Police had been studied for several years before the decision to equip officers, said David Sprick, chief of University Police. The ECD fires two probes connected to the device by propelled wires. Once deployed, an electronic charge can be released into the subject at the control of the ECD operator. The subject should be temporarily incapacitated long enough for an officer to apply restraints.

The device is intended to provide officers with an additional intervention option. The Law Enforcement Standards Board of the Wisconsin Department of Justice, on its use-of-force scale, ranks an ECD below both the use of a firearm and police baton — and in the same category as pepper spray.

"The ECD provides University Police officers with an effective weapon to be used as an alternative to other intervention options in situations where circumstances warrant," said Sprick. "Additionally, University Police officers will now be equipped with the same kind of electronic control devices as city of Eau Claire police officers."

The University Police use-of-force policy requires that only officers who have successfully completed the approved course of instruction on the ECD are authorized to use it and that officers receive annual training on the use of the ECD in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations. The policy also requires that an incident report be reviewed by university administration whenever an officer draws or fires a Taser.



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