A&M-Commerce President comments about campus safety

Texas A&M University-Commerce President Dr. Keith McFarland and University Police Chief Donna Spinato met with local media following the shootings at Virginia Tech.

Commerce, TX – Texas A&M University-Commerce President Dr. McFarland said safety of students is his highest priority, considering parents send their most valuable possessions, their children, to the university.

Dr. McFarland advised everyone to be very vigilant of their surroundings, saying "If you see something strange, better to call." He suggested students visit with their residence hall assistants, staff at the counseling center, and University Police.

The President said how the campus will be notified of an emergency will depend on its circumstances. A&M-Commerce has a crisis management plan that University Police Chief Donna Spinato says is used daily. Multiple sources were notified April 13th when severe weather affected local Relay For Life activities.

15 emergency phone stations with blue lights are located around the Commerce campus. In addition, University Police (UPD) can be contacted on a campus phone at 911 or extension 5111. On a cell phone, call 903-886-5111. You should not assume UPD has already learned about the emergency. At a minimum, be ready to tell UPD your identity, the nature of emergency...including extent of injuries and/or damage and possible assistance required...the location of the emergency, and how you learned about the emergency.

A&M-Commerce not only has a fully trained University Police Department but the university has mutual aid agreements with Commerce police, Commerce school district police, Greenville police, Sulphur Springs police, the sheriff's departments in Hunt, Hopkins, and Delta counties, and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Dr. McFarland pointed out A&M-Commerce was the first university in the state to comply with fire safety codes. Millions of dollars were spent to, among other things, install sprinkler systems in residence halls that have three or more floors.

The A&M-Commerce crisis management plan was last revised 10/29/06 and will be visited again in light of the shootings at Virginia Tech. The definition of crisis includes but is not limited to natural disasters, fire/explosion with injuries or damage, hazardous material release, major utility failure, terrorist act/campus disturbance/riot, pandemic outbreak, death of a student on or off campus, life threatening injury/illness, sexual assault, attempted suicide, workplace violence, and drug/alcohol overdose.