Campus chief of police says JWCC ready for any potential incident

Posted: Mar. 20, 2013 11:32 pm Updated: Apr. 11, 2013 12:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Bill LaTour, the chief of the John Wood Community College campus police, assured the Board of Trustees there are plans in place for prevention and response in regard to any potential campus shootings and related emergencies.

LaTour gave a detailed presentation Wednesday night that outlined procedures and policies to guard against and respond to worst-possible scenarios.

"The active shooter phenomenon is relatively new," said LaTour, singling out the Columbine (1999) and Virginia Tech (2007) massacres in recent years. "Columbine changed things for law enforcement."

LaTour, who oversees a JWCC force of four former or current law enforcement officers, said the Columbine killings changed the culture of such developments from "hostage situation" to "kill as many people as possible."

All of JWCC's officers are armed, regularly patrol campus buildings and have portable and in-car radio communication with the Adams County 911 Center. JWCC officers train faculty, staff and students on response and prevention by using drills and presentations at all college centers. The Quincy Police Department also conducts active shooter training at the school's 48th and Harrison campus.

Following the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech, the Campus Security and Enhancement Act was passed to helped colleges and universities prevent future incidents by creating threat assessment procedures and behavioral intervention teams.

"We think, plan and train for sorts of things that we hope will never happen," LaTour said. "We're very happy when we're bored stuff -- but if necessary, we have people (ready). We'd rather not have to act, we'd rather prevent ... but we need to stay vigilant."

In other business, the trustees:

º Approved submission of a $75,000 grant request to the Illinois Secretary of State for the Adult Literacy Program. The recurring grant would fund one-on-one tutoring. Current grant funding has matched 174 adult learners with tutors.

º Were told by fellow trustee Reggie Coleman, who is president of the Illinois Community College Trustees Association, that Gov. Pat Quinn has recommended a 6.1 percent decrease in state community college funding for Fiscal 2014. Coleman said it is his impression that decrease could wind up as high as 10 percent.

º Accepted a $24,924 grant from the Illinois Board of Higher Education for the Illinois Cooperative Work Study program. The recurring grant supports work-study and internship activities at local businesses. The grant pays half of student wages during their employment as interns. JWCC placed 25 interns with 17 employers this year using grant funding.

º Granted approval to submit a Capital Project Application for a Protection, Health and Safety project to the Illinois Community College Board. Approval of the application would allow JWCC to use $13,067 in restricted funds to upgrade the school's existing video recording system and install four security cameras at the new Mount Sterling Education Center location.

º Approved summer hours for the college that will be in affect June 14-Aug. 2. The college will be open during regular hours Monday through Thursday and closed on Fridays and weekends.