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April 18, 2007
Contact: Molly de Ramel
(401) 863-2476

A Message About Community Safety and Security

Senior administrators at Brown University distributed a campuswide e-mail today, describing the University’s policies and preparedness for emergency situations. The text of that message follows here.

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April 18, 2007

Dear Members of the Brown Community,

In the aftermath of the tragic event at Virginia Tech, the Brown community and the entire nation is experiencing a sense of shock, sadness, and grief.

As we continue to think of the families of the victims, and the students, faculty, and staff at Virginia Tech, I want to communicate with you about Brown’s own preparedness for emergency situations. Although nothing may be able to prevent such an act of random violence as the one that occurred in Blacksburg, Vice Presidents Walter Hunter and Russell Carey have prepared a summary of our procedures and plans that you will find below. We recognize that many parents and other family members of college students are concerned about safety and security on campuses across the country, so I encourage you to share this information with your families, friends, and colleagues.

On Monday night, members of our community gathered at Manning Chapel to reflect on the many lives that were lost at Virginia Tech. In the days ahead, I am sure that the University will develop other opportunities for us to demonstrate our concern and sympathy for those who were affected by this tragedy.

Ruth J. Simmons

Safety, Security and Support Services at Brown University

We would like to make you aware of current safety protocols and several ongoing public safety initiatives that are part of our overall comprehensive security plan and preparedness at Brown.

The University’s Department of Public Safety is a professional, nationally accredited law enforcement agency. Campus Police Officers are graduates of the Rhode Island Municipal Police Academy, authorized to carry firearms and highly trained and experienced. They are trained and authorized to take action to protect the lives and safety of community members. During the last several years, we have made significant investments in public safety training, staffing, equipment, and technology to enhance safety on campus.

Public Safety coordinates and trains with the Providence Police Department on a regular basis. Last December, for example, Brown Public Safety command staff and Providence Police officers conducted a joint tabletop exercise simulating and assessing response procedures to a shooting incident on campus. The Providence Police Department maintains a substation on campus, and both agencies have the ability to communicate instantly via police radios. Colonel Mark Porter met this week with Providence Police Chief Dean Esserman to review and enhance protocols and preparedness and command staff are conducting roll call reviews with DPS officers of departmental policies and procedures governing hostage or barricade situations. It should also be noted Brown policy prohibits the possession on campus of a firearm regardless of whether or not the individual holds a permit. The only exception to this policy applies to sworn law enforcement officers. Please report any violation of this policy immediately to the Department of Public Safety.

The University has a campus Emergency Action Plan online at We encourage members of the community to review the plan, particularly the instructions regarding “shelter in place” situations. The Core Crisis Committee, chaired by Walter Hunter, continuously reviews our plans and preparedness, and we are currently evaluating various aspects of our readiness in light of lessons learned from this week’s events.

The University has the capacity to communicate quickly to all members of the campus community via e-mail, Web, voice mail to campus phones, and directly to students through Residential Peer Leaders in residence halls. We were already evaluating available technologies to communicate to private phones and instant messaging, and we are exploring other, more conventional methods of emergency broadcasting, including public address systems and sirens.

In the event of a hostage or barricade-type situation, Brown would immediately call upon the Providence Police Department to take command and control of the scene. Providence police have trained tactical personnel and hostage negotiators for such incidents. While the response to and actions taken in any incident depend on the facts and circumstances at hand, the coordinated training and communications mentioned above are intended to prepare Brown’s Department of Public Safety and the Providence Police Department for such an occurrence.

A number of resources and offices are available to provide support to members of the community who have concerns, questions or feelings raised by these events and for students with family or friends at Virginia Tech or in the surrounding community. These include the following offices which are open and available to students during normal business hours:

Psychological Services 863-3476

  • Regular Appointments
  • Crisis Clinician available daily for urgent situations

Office of Student Life 863-3145

  • Regular Appointments
  • Dean of the Day available daily for urgent situations

Office of the Chaplains 863-2344

  • Regular Appointments
  • Drop-ins accepted

In addition, an administrator on call or a chaplain can be reached 24 hours a day through the Office of Public Safety at 863-3322. The Psychological Services clinician on call can be contacted after normal business hours through Health Services at 863-1330. Psychological Services has a link on its Web site – – to information prepared by the American Psychological Association, ‘Managing your stress in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings.’ Information about assistance available for faculty and staff can be found at the following Web site:

Finally, we are aware that it is very difficult to predict violent behavior. However, there are some signs that, taken together, can serve as an alert for concern. Among them are: a history of violence, abuse of alcohol or drugs, loss of temper on a daily basis, significant suspiciousness or paranoia, and escalating aggressive or agitated behavior. If you become concerned about the potential for immediate violence in an individual you should contact Public Safety at 863-4111. If you have more general concerns about a member of the community you may contact the Office of Student Life at 863-3145 or Psychological Services at 863-3476 or Human Resources at 863-7519 for information and support.


Walter C. Hunter
Vice President for Administration

Russell C. Carey
Interim Vice President
Campus Life and Student Services

Editors: Brown University has a fiber link television studio available for domestic and international live and taped interviews and maintains an ISDN line for radio interviews. For more information, call the Office of Media Relations at (401) 863-2476.