South Eugene

Law enforcement to meet on campus safety: 'They need to be ready'

Law enforcement to meet on campus safety: 'They need to be ready' »Play Video
Police respond to a call about an armed man outside Churchill High School in October, 2013.

EUGENE, ORE. - Lane County police leaders and local colleges are a week away from taking steps to make campuses safer.

Law enforcement is holding school safety conference Wednesday, Feb. 26 at Eugene's Northwest Christian University, hoping to get all the officers on the same page when approaching student safety.

"There's nothing more important really than to protect our children," said Junction City Police Chief Mark Chase.

Lane County Sheriff Tom Turner will moderate the conference on campus safety. The program School Safety and Dangerous Acts of Violence will bring together police and academia.

"The public safety departments simply need to be ready. They need to be prepared. They need to practice, they need to train. They need to realize what the inevitabilities are," said Sheriff Turner.

It's a most relevant topic, coming just two months after a deadly encounter between Eugene Police and a man with a gun outside Churchill High School.

For the police chiefs who will be at the conference, two big issues are very apparent. Prevention of violence and how to identify people with mental illnesses before they get to a campus.

"We in the United States need to ask ourselves how we want to better detect the mental health conditions that lead to this kind of deadly behavior," said Chief Pete Kerns of the Eugene Police.

Officials hope the conference next week is just the first step in a longer conversation to make sure all students can be safe.

Sheriff Turner says the NCU conference runs from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. next Wednesday. It's open to the public.