By CHERYL ROBERTS
Three threats of violence against Chemeketa Community College have raised concern, frustration and questions about the security of college students and employees. Many students have had their schedules changed without notice and classes canceled. The time spent investigating these calls has interrupted our ability to educate students who are investing energy and money to improve their lives. Students are outraged that selfish individuals are thwarting their education.
We hear from students and alumni all the time how Chemeketa has improved their lives. We have profound experiences of the community coming along side to support us when we need help. Now we are in a predicament and need you in a different way. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office is devoting significant resources to the case. Anyone with information helpful to solving the case can contact the Sheriff’s Office anonymously at 503-588-5112.
I wish we had a magic wand to protect us all from danger, but that is not possible, and it would be naive to pretend we will always be completely immune from risk. I refuse to accept that these situations will derail us from our mission to transform lives. We are well-prepared to anticipate and respond to threats, and I want to share some of the steps we’ve taken to make Chemeketa as safe as possible –
1. Our Director of Public Safety has over 30 years of law enforcement experience. He has forged partnerships with local law enforcement professionals with whom we collaborate on matters of crime prevention and emergency response.
2. We have a threat assessment team in place that works closely with law enforcement to provide early warning of potential dangers.
3. Our emergency management committee has been rigorous in organizing and training staff to respond to emergencies effectively. This includes quarterly training sessions where personnel practice responding to simulated emergency situations.
4. We practice clear and open communications, so we have established a text message alert system which currently notifies over 5,000 students and staff of emergencies and closures affecting Chemeketa.
5. We have in place a crisis response team that is prepared to help us address our emotional needs should a traumatic event occur.
We will continue to respond swiftly to any threat and ask the community to join us in cooperating with law enforcement to bring this unprecedented situation to a close. Again, if you have any information that may be helpful, please contact the Sheriff’s Office anonymously at 503-588-5112.
Cheryl Roberts is president of Chemeketa Community College.