Governor’s task force includes HLG campus security chief
HANNIBAL – Even though the summer has just begun, Kyle Brennemann, dean of student development for Hannibal-LaGrange College (HLG), doesn’t have any extra spare time. Gov. Matt Blunt recently appointed Brennemann and 28 other Missourians to the Campus Security Task Force. They are to report back to the governor in August.
Safety and security on college campuses has been a high-profile issue since a rogue gunman killed 32 people at Virginia Tech University April 16.
Blunt has charged Missouri college administrators, safety officials, members of police and fire departments, state highway patrol, health officials and representatives from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATM) with promoting a widespread partnership between schools and the public safety community as well as examining their preparedness for emergencies.
Brennemann, who has been at HLG two years and is a member of First Baptist Church in Palmyra, said he is likely on the board to provide perspective from a small, private institution. As dean of student development, campus security is one of the areas he oversees.
“The massacre that happened on the campus of Virginia Tech has brought light to some of the shortcomings of emergency management planning on many college and university campuses,” he said.
Many schools, including HLG, simply never thought something like that could happen. HLG has had an emergency management plan in place for at least two years. Brennemann said it laid out a plan of action only for such things as inclement weather, a gas leak on campus and food poisoning – not a gunman.
“Since the Virginia Tech tragedy, we’ve been looking into it,” he said, “and we’re working with the Hannibal Police Department as well as the Ralls County Homeland Security Agent and will be waiting to see what the task force concludes.”
The vast diversity of the physical layout of campuses around the state is a challenge the task force has been facing in the six meetings to date. It makes locking down and securing a high school seem simple. At one recent meeting, the ATF special agent in charge of the Virginia Tech case briefed the task force.
“Our campus, for example, has several spread-out buildings,” Brennemann said. “Others are in a more urban setting and things are built close together. Virginia Tech, on the other hand, is urban but very spread out over a very large area. You have to take into account where students are living, where they congregate, where they eat and everything in order to develop a system that will work.”