“We have a responsibility to Ohio students, their families and our communities to use the tragic events at Virginia Tech as an opportunity to re-examine campus safety issues in Ohio,” Strickland told The Associated Press.
Jeff Perez, executive director in the Office of Communications and Legislative Affairs at SSU, said a protocol is in place on the SSU campus.
“I don't think it would be wise to discuss our protocol in public,” he said. “It suffices to say we will be doing everything possible to ensure the safety of our students.”
Strickland asked Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut to create the new body, which will be charged with reviewing college and university safety plans, coordinating discussion among institutions and planning their responses to violent events.
“We approach any incident on campus with the safety of our students and staff being our top priority,” Perez said. “We will take every measure possible to secure our campus at all times.”
Strickland said the goal of the task force is to “make sure that state government is offering the maximum amount of support to the schools as well as coordinating with local efforts.”
Portsmouth Police Chief Charles Horner said his department continues to cooperate with SSU to work in assistance with university officials for support of any university security efforts.
“We always have worked with them and will continue to,” Horner said. “Just as we have been working on a plan with Portsmouth City Schools since last year, this is just a part of the natural progression of plans to formulate procedures in which our department can actively assist school officials where possible.”
Strickland said each college and university, and any independent institutions interested in participating, must submit the name of their representatives by Monday.
“Shawnee State will, of course, be participating, and President (Rita Rice) Morris will be naming someone to that body by Monday,” Perez said.
Cho Seung-Hui, 23, a senior student at Virginia Tech, shot 32 people to death there before turning the gun on himself Monday, prompting the call by Strickland for a task force to look into campus security in Ohio.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS contributed to this story. FRANK LEWIS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.