The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday January 29th

Shooter drill to test UNC emergency preparedness

There will be a gang of shooters on campus Wednesday at the Outdoor Education Center.

Luckily, they will all be actors.

EnviroSafe Consulting and Investigations Inc. is conducting a practice exercise without real weapons to put UNC’s emergency response plans to the test.

The actors will be antagonists in a drill to help the UNC Department of Public Safety and other local safety and law enforcement agencies prepare for the possibility of an actual on-campus shooting.

The drill, which the General Administration required for all UNC-system schools, will cost $26,009 per school and provide the opportunity to review campus safety from the top down. The UNC-system is paying for the drills.

Chancellor Holden Thorp and other administrators will be overseeing the drill from an administrative perspective, while the safety agencies — including the Chapel Hill and Carrboro police departments — address the physical threats.

Students are not expected to be affected by the drill except for a five-minute talk on how to respond in an emergency, which Thorp has asked professors and teaching assistants to host in their classes from 8:45 to 8:50 a.m.

At that time, the University’s siren system will sound, and Alert Carolina text messages will be sent out to subscribers.

A perimeter will be established around the Outdoor Education Center to keep students, local residents and any others who are not on the approved list away, said Ron Campbell, emergency management coordinator for DPS.

“Safety is paramount,” he said.

He said the security is intended both to keep bystanders safe and also to keep them from photographing the event, a policy he attributed to the wishes of the responding agencies.

“Some people who participate might work in other counties or states as undercover agents, so they don’t want their members to be photographed,” he said.

DPS spokesman Randy Young said the number of participants was being withheld from the responders to create a more realistic simulation.

“We’re responding to a situation as it develops,” he said. “So that’s going to be something determined by the hosting organization.”

Campbell said, in the interest of creating a realistic environment, he was not informed of the weapons the simulators will use.

He said the drill would present the University with a chance to reevaluate its emergency protocol in a situation as close to reality as possible.

Campbell added that using a third party contractor with state and national experience improves the drill’s credibility and gives UNC a better chance to determine whether it needs a policy change or not.

“One of the great things about doing these drills is being better prepared,” he said.

The University is currently developing an RSS feed that would automatically update its Twitter and Facebook pages in reaction to real campus emergencies, University spokesman Mike McFarland said.

In preparation for the drill, McFarland said that UNC has notified the community of the drill through advertising, YouTube videos and door hangers for those who live near the Outdoor Education Center.

Contact the University Editor at udesk@unc.edu.

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