North Texas Daily

Discovery Park patrol after campus carry

Discovery Park patrol after campus carry

November 05
02:03 2015

Eline de Bruijn | Staff Writer


When the Campus Carry Taskforce conducted its hearings last month on how to deal with campus carry, some in the crowds pressured the UNT police, suggesting that a campus gunman could easily overtake students and faculty going to class at Discovery Park. But during interviews with students at Discovery Park, many revealed they feel safe.

As the university establishes its campus carry policy, the UNT Police Department will review its patrol routines. Police Lt. David Owen said one officer per shift is assigned to patrol Discovery Park, and that will likely continue when concealed handgun owners begin carrying their weapons in August 2016. Additionally, there are campus security guards at Discovery Park.

“I always feel safe here and never felt like I was in danger or anything,” electrical engineer senior Eric White said. 

Professor Robert Renka, who has taught at UNT since 2009, said he felt safe at Discovery Park before and now that campus carry will be allowed.

“I’m not overly concerned. As long as they’re licensed to carry, then they’re welcome in my classroom,” Renka said.

Owen said the concern for potential violence of an active shooter is valid, but people shouldn’t connect it with CHL holders.

“Statistics show it would be very unlikely that there’d be a CHL holder that would be committing an active shooter situation,” Owen said. “There [are] 36,000 people on campus, and only a few hundred at one time can potentially be carrying under the concealed handgun license laws. Those are the people who are exceedingly law abiding.”

The university offers training and resources to learn about what to do in the case of an active shooter. Owen said UNT police teach the model, “get out, hide out or take out.”

People should “get out” if they are far enough from the situation that they can escape. They should “hide out” or create a barricade if they are close enough to where they can’t leave, but aren’t directly involved, and “take out” the shooter by protecting themselves or disengaging the other person.

Owen said the UNT police, Denton police and the fire department have training and meetings to work together to create a frame of reference for an extreme emergency situation.

“I don’t feel unsafe,” computer science junior Samuel Evans said. “I feel, in Denton, fairly safe actually in general. I’ve never really had a problem with it.”

Police officers and campus security officers work together for an overall security plan for campus. Campus security officers are unarmed, but Owen said in the event of a physical threat, the security officer can make a citizen’s arrest and wait for the police to arrest the individual.

Campus security officers are always present at Discovery Park, Owen said. In the case of an emergency, they would call for backup from the UNT police over the radio.

Discovery Park building hours are 6 a.m. through midnight.

Electrical engineering graduate Madhuri Chinthakindi said she often stays late at Discovery Park to work on projects, and she doesn’t think adding more security or police is necessary.

“I was working until 12 in the Discovery Park lab, but there were no buses,” Chinthakindi said. “I called the Discovery Park emergency buses, so they picked me up, and my friend. It was in the middle of the night, so I feel like it is absolutely safe if people stay until midnight.”

Some students at campus carry meetings were concerned about the distance between UNT police and Discovery Park. Owen said they can’t measure the response time because officers are patrolling and aren’t at the station when calls come in.

“We know it’s about four and a half miles from here to there,” Owen said. “They’re going to respond as quickly as possible.”

The Denton police handle all 9-1-1 calls, where they can then transfer the call to UNT police if it pertains to the university. In an extremely dangerous event, Denton police and Denton County sheriffs will be the first to respond and would send officers, and then UNT police would be notified.

Featured Image: Security at Discovery Park isn’t the most vigilant group, but the satellite campus is also patrolled by UNT police. Matthew Brown | Senior Staff Photographer

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