The University of North Carolina at Charlotte has received the external review it commissioned of the April 30, 2019, shootings that took the lives of Reed Parlier and Riley Howell and injured four other students in the Kennedy Building. The review was completed by the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) and the National Police Foundation (NPF).
“The National Police Foundation commends UNC Charlotte leadership for commissioning this independent review to identify opportunities to enhance campus safety and resiliency,” said Jim Burch, president of the National Police Foundation.
The report focuses on four primary areas: leadership, relationships and preparedness; crisis communication; threat assessment; and mental health, resilience and recovery. The full report document is confidential because of safety and security planning and preparedness; a summary has been made available to the community.
Among the areas of strength identified in the report were the initial law enforcement response; actions taken to secure the campus; campus leadership’s preparations for ongoing campus needs; and communication with the University community that focused on compassion and respect, according to Sue Riseling, now-retired executive director of IACLEA, who oversaw the review process.
“UNC Charlotte did many things right on April 30, 2019, and in the days and months that followed,” said Riseling. “We made several recommendations for ways in which UNC Charlotte can strengthen their readiness for emergencies and crises, including the refinement and additional practice of existing plans and procedures. However, even with these recommendations, it was clear in our review that there was no information available to UNC Charlotte prior to the incident that would have identified the shooter as a threat or prevented the tragedy that unfolded.”
Based on the recommendations, Chancellor Philip L. Dubois, in consultation with Chancellor-elect Sharon L. Gaber, has outlined the University’s immediate next steps:
- A review and revision of the Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) and the configuration and location of its Emergency Operations Center (EOC), focusing on the development of specific procedures to govern the lifting of a campus lockdown order.
- A review and revision of the crisis communications plan, focusing on the further specification of staff roles and responsibilities and coordination of public communications with external agencies involved in responding to a campus emergency.
- Additional research related to strengthening the ability of the University to identify, assess and manage campus behavioral and threat-related concerns.
- A review of training programs for dealing with campus emergencies, particularly those necessary for the onboarding of new senior administrators, and continuing attention to active shooter training for employees and students.
- A senior-level dialogue surrounding community resilience planning, focusing on supporting the ongoing mental health services needed to address the psychological trauma experienced by many members of the campus community as a result of the shootings and the lockdown.
“I appreciate the thoroughness and professionalism of IACLEA and NPF in completing this review,” said Dubois. “Nothing can take away the grief of April 30 or the pain of losing Reed and Riley, but we hope to show our commitment to honoring their memory through our actions going forward. We take this report’s recommendations seriously, and we hope other universities and colleges around the nation will also benefit from the findings.”
In total, the external review produced 31 findings and 79 recommendations for consideration by UNC Charlotte. As acknowledged in the review, many of the recommendations have already been addressed through the University’s own after-action review that occurred shortly after the shootings.