By Sean Robinson, Senior Staff Writer
On Jan. 5, UNO freshman and speech pathology major Kelsey Johnston took a break at her part-time job at Target to read several text messages reading “Shooting at Millard South.”
A graduate Millard South, Johnston hustled to learn if her sister Ally, a freshman, was safe. In the week since the Millard South shootings, Johnston and the rest of the Omaha community have been forced to face tragedy in the form of a shooting rampage and question the safety of all public education institutions.
Only eight days into the new year, the nation was rocked by not only the Millard South shooting, which claimed the life of the gunman and an administrator, but also by tragedy in Arizona, where six people were killed in Tucson.
Venturing into the new year, UNO’s own security team must face the harsh reality that the campus, and any public institution for that matter, must step up their security measures.
“I trust the security team here at UNO,” Johnston said. “I know if any tragedy were to ensue, such as the one at Millard South, student and faculty safety would be top priority. However, I can’t help but be concerned to some degree. Not that they could have prevented this tragedy at all, but I trusted the security team at Millard South, too.”
Composed of 23 officers, the UNO Campus Security Department’s job is to enforce university regulations. However, they are unarmed and cannot make arrests.
Beyond 24-hour-a-day security patrols, safety is enhanced by the emergency alert system throughout campus, which alerts security at the push of a button. Also, a text messaging system has been put into place, which will notify any participating student of emergencies on campus.
To sign up for the emergency alert texting system, go to the bottom of the UNO homepage and click the “emergency site” link. From there, click the top button on the left side to sign up.
If a public shooting were to happen on campus, UNO security manager Paul Kosel said there is no “1,2,3” system for safety. The order for ensuring safety can change depending on the case, but it is expected that the Omaha police would be notified immediately, first-aid would be provided and a search for the suspect would begin.
Despite the recent amount of public shootings, Kosel said no one has approached UNO’s security department for a change or increase of security.
“I think UNO’s safety and security is as good as anybody else’s,” Kosel said. “We are an open campus though, which means that anybody could walk up and use the facilities. We see strangers from the public on campus all the time. Statistically speaking though, violent crimes on this campus are very low.”