TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- With 24 campus shootings nationwide in 2015, advocates are more vocal than ever in pushing to allow concealed weapons at Kansas universities.
The August shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon that left ten people dead, and 23 other campus shootings, put the nation on high alert, including educators in Kansas.
"When anything like that happens, it causes people to be concerned, and what do you do? We're going to take a much deeper dive into campus security and campus safety from a lot of different angles," said Kansas Board of Regents Chair Shane Bangerter.
The Kansas Board of Regents is currently discussing the best way to implement the Personal and Family Protection Act. When signed into law in 2013, Kansas college and universities were given a four year exemption before either allowing concealed weapons on campus, or securing every single building, which could cost millions of dollars.
"It's costly to provide adequate security so that's something each campus will need to take a look at. Can we provide adequate security as defined by the statute? Or, on the contrary, do you allow concealed carry, and if so, what does that look like?" said Bangerter.
The board's final decision will affect six state schools: KU, K-State, Wichita State, Emporia State, Fort Hays State, and Pittsburg State. All other Kansas college and universities will make their own decisions about how to implement the law.
The discussion will continue throughout the next year, but to explore some of those different angles, the Board of Regents recently sent a survey to students at state schools. Washburn University sent one of their own as well. An example of a question found on the survey is, "How would allowing concealed weapons or open carry on your campus affect your decision to attend this university?"
"We're hoping to get some positive feedback about that, whether students want guns or not. We just want to know what their opinions are and hopefully we can advise the Board of Regents, Washburn is certainly curious, and if it comes down to it, the Legislature," said Washburn Student Government President Blake Porter.
When the surveys are returned in the next few weeks, the Board will analyze and take into account the overall opinions.
13 NEWS spoke with a few students at Washburn University, who were surprised to hear the two options. Especially the underclassmen, who will be directly affected by the final decision.
"I'm not comfortable with either," said one Washburn freshman.
"I'm more comfortable with metal detectors," said another Washburn freshman.
Just last week, the Kansas Young Republicans adopted a resolution supporting concealed carry on college campuses. Moriah Day, Vice Chair At-Large for the Kansas Young Republicans, came out with a statement saying:
"It’s impossible to keep bad guys with guns off campus. It’s unachievable and doesn’t justify restricting tens-of-thousands of law-abiding students, faculty, and administrators from taking responsibility for their own safety and security. I have the utmost respect and appreciation for law enforcement and the sacrifices each of those men and women make on a daily basis. Campus police and other safety officers strive to provide the absolute best security they can, but crime still happens. That’s the world we live in. Feeling safe and being safe are two very different things. Each individual should have the ability to use his or her own judgment when it comes to personal protection."
The Kansas Board of Regents will have to implement a decision by July 1, 2017.
Not only have the nationwide shootings created a sense of urgency for the law to be carried out, but sparks concern of safety at universities closer to home.
State schools have many security measures and procedures in place to deal with violent crimes. 13 NEWS visited three of them to dig deeper into the safety they're providing.
UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS
The University of Kansas has a Public Safety Office on campus with 29 commissioned police officers who are armed, and 24 safety and security officers who are not armed. They go through an extensive training process before becoming a commissioned officer: five weeks of in-house training and 12 weeks of field training.
They also have frequent training within their department and annual training with other law enforcement agencies.
"As different incidents of active shooter occur, we review our policies, procedures and training protocol to see what the most appropriate measures are," said KU Police Captain James Anguiano.
Anguiano says to achieve the most accurate response time and to carry out the correct procedures, every officer is required to know locations of the 200 plus buildings and 100 plus parking lots on campus.
"We're just like a city. We have 30,000 people here when school's in session, so it really comes down to not making yourself vulnerable," said Anguiano.
According to Anguiano, a majority of students do feel safe at KU, but the school has implemented ways to make them feel even more so. Like many universities throughout Kansas, they provide emergency phones. There are 72 that stretch through the two mile campus. If anyone is feeling unsafe for any reason, they can press the red help button, and every time a campus police officer will respond.
"It gives you a sense of security on campus. There's a visualization that, there's something I could use," said Anguiano.
KU rarely sees violent crimes on campus, however, according to their Criminal Offenses Report, they do see a high number of theft and drug violations.
You can find all of KU's safety procedures, and a video of what to do in the case of an active shooter, by visiting alerts.ku.edu.
KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY
Kansas State University is another university that utilizes many safety precautions for their students. Some include the emergency phones, 24/7 police patrol, the Wildcat Walk Escort Service, which is where students can call an officer to walk home with them if they feel uncomfortable walking on campus alone (785-395-7233), security cameras, and the Live Safe App.
"The Live Safe App is an interactive app that allows you to communicate with dispatch and send tips in. It also has a friend app on there, where you can follow a friend. If they're at the library, you can actually follow them on a map back to their house," said K-State Police Major Don Stubbings.
The app was especially helpful when two armed suspects ran through campus in early September.
"We didn't want them getting into buildings and possibly hurting people, so we did put the school on lockdown," said K-State Police Officer Dustin Parker.
K-State was then able to alert students, faculty and staff about the lockdown through alert notifications, making sure they found a safe place away from the potential danger. Campus police are also offering a new program to teach their department and community how to react during those situations.
"We do active shooter training for both our officers and the community with the ALiCE Program. It stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate," said Stubbings.
The K-State Police Department has a full list of safety precautions and tools for students on their website www.k-state.edu/police/services.
The campus police department at Washburn University offers many of the same programs as KU and K-State. Instead of the ALiCE program, they offer an active shooter training course for faculty, and a general campus safety course for all incoming freshmen. Washburn's training involves teaching about the Run, Hide, Fight scenario.
"We talk to our students about, use anything you can in the event that that happens, and if that's a can of mace in your purse, then that's what it is. It may slow them down and prevent a lot more loss of life, but ultimately, it may not stop the threat," said Washburn University Police Captain Chris Enos.
Recently, Washburn's library employees sat down with Police Chief Dean Forrester, to know how they should react if a shooter entered their front doors.
"Start throwing things. You throw your purse, your laptop, the chair. You run at him, you kick him and knock tables over. He's going to get, unfortunately, maybe three or four of you, but he's not going to get ten of you," said Forrester.
While faculty and students learn how to respond to potential danger, Washburn does have other ways to protect those on campus.
"We have a campus camera system of 120, and that increases all the time. Closed circuit TV's both inside and out," said Enos.
However, even with all of the deterrence, no one can answer when a threat will become a reality.
"Much like other disasters and tragedies that we see, I don't know that they're preventable, but we can prevent some of the loss of life, and some of the trauma that's involved," said Enos.