Skittish Idaho university issues warning after domestic dispute on campus

Oct 5 2011 - 10:41am

MOSCOW, Idaho -- The University of Idaho issued a security notice Tuesday alerting students, faculty and staff to be on the lookout for a man who was trespassed from campus Monday.

Justin Tillock, 22, of Moscow, was living with a woman at the Elmwood Apartments, a UI student housing facility, until about a month ago. That's when the woman obtained a protection order against him stemming from an alleged assault, Moscow Police Chief David Duke said.

Matt Dorschel, the UI's director of emergency management and security services, said university officials became aware on Monday that "an altercation that happened between a UI student and her live-in boyfriend" had been reported to Moscow Police. That's when university officials asked police to issue the no-trespassing order.

"The (female) student is taken care of," he said. "She is at a shelter."

Dorschel's comments Tuesday afternoon came during a previously scheduled meeting with the UI Faculty Senate.

A couple senators said the security notice issued Tuesday morning was too vague and didn't make clear enough the nature of the incident or the extent of danger involved.

Dorschel said the notice was issued because although university officials "didn't believe there was an immediate threat to the campus at large," they wanted help finding Tillock and getting him escorted off campus if he were to show up.

Anyone who sees Tillock on campus is asked to report him to the Moscow Police Department, according to the security notice.

Dorschel said since the Aug. 22 killing of graduate student Katy Benoit by former assistant professor Ernesto Bustamante, university officials have been conducting an internal review of security policies and procedures.

"We're trying to gather the lessons that we learn and put together an implementation plan or recommendations for implementations," he said.

He said security and emergency management is "an evolving process" and that the UI is trying to do better.

He said the campus community is sensitive to security issues right now because of the Aug. 22 incident, but that's not always the case.

"In business as usual, it's very easy for (safety) to fall on the back burner," he said.

He told faculty members he is happy to speak and work with groups on campus to develop safety and emergency plans.

The UI received an 18-month U.S. Department of Education Emergency Management in Higher Education grant in 2009 that enabled officials to conduct a security audit of campus, provide training and exercises for the campus community and add resources to the university's risk management website.

The website, located at www.uidaho.edu/emergencymanagement, includes emergency contact information, security and emergency training videos, a form to request training and more.

This year, the university is also offering Kognito At-Risk, an online training simulation for faculty and staff to learn to identify and refer at-risk students to support services on campus.

"We do ask faculty and staff, apart from those of us who are directly responsible, to take on roles and responsibilities when it comes to security and emergency management," Dorschel said.

Nancy Spink, the UI's risk management officer, told senators "there is no way to get instant alerts to 14,000 people" because of technology limitations.

She and Dorschel said the UI is seeking requests for proposals for a new security notification system to replace the one used Tuesday morning. Spink said the current system seems slow and doesn't work well with email.

"You have to understand that our UI alert system is a notification system and not a warning system," she said.

She said that's why personal responsibility is important, so people can assess hazards on the spot and determine appropriate responses.

Dorschel said he encourages UI departments to develop their own emergency plans, if they don't already have them.

Above all, he said, it's better to be safe than sorry.

"If you are not sure, call 911," he said. "They don't mind getting a call that maybe isn't appropriate. They'd rather get a false alert than not get called. They are trained to deal with that. Almost too often, I hear, 'Well, I didn't think it was important enough to call 911.' "

In decidedly nonemergency situations, however, the campus community can contact AlliedBarton campus security by calling (208) 874-7550 at any hour. Dorschel described the private security guards as "a fantastic addition to campus" and said they are trained to refer calls to law enforcement if necessary.

Daily News staff writer Brandon Macz contributed to this report.

(c)2011 the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Moscow, Idaho)

Visit the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Moscow, Idaho) at www.dnews.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

 

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