Public Safety emergency plans

Following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newton, Conn. in which 26 students and teachers were killed, schools across the country are on high alert.

While being killed in a school setting is less than a one in a million chance according to David Finkelhor of the University of New Hampshire, Quinnipiac’s Department of Public Safety has an Emergency Guide for what to do in dangerous situations such as the one in Newtown.  Brochures are available from Public Safety explaining what to do in the event of a violent intruder at Quinnipiac, hazardous material or gas being released, fire or explosion and a bomb threat.

In the case of an armed intruder, Public Safety would attempt to secure the area and set up a perimeter, according to Director of Emergency Management John Twining. Public Safety officers are not armed and would evacuate as many people as possible. The Hamden Police would then subdue the intruder upon their arrival, Twining said. The Hamden Police Department is trained to respond to violent intruder situations.

“If such a thing were to happen we hope that somebody would contact Public Safety and let us know,” Twining said.

According to the emergency guide brochure, direct calls to 9-1-1 block communications between the Quinnipiac University security dispatcher and the scene of the emergency. The location of the call is seen by Hamden police as “275 Mount Carmel Avenue” and not the specific university building.

By dialing 1-1-1, the Public Safety dispatcher can see which building the caller is in and send that information to Hamden Police, who have blueprints of all Quinnipiac buildings. Students may also reach Public Safety at 203-582-6200.

When someone calls Public Safety about a situation, they will then call Hamden Police and refer them to the building using colors and numbers, instead of the names of the buildings. Ledges, for example, is Building 12 and each entrance to the school has a different color, according to Twining.

“Help gets there much faster if you call 1-1-1,” Twining said.

When there is an emergency on any Quinnipiac University campus, Public Safety will release a broadcast alert via text message to cell phones and handheld devices. To register a device, visit In addition to signing up for alerts, students may set up a panic button on their phone using the website. By setting up this feature, a student can speed dial Public Safety. The exact location and information is directly sent to Public Safety.

To help prevent such an incident from occurring at Quinnipiac, Twining spends a lot of time with faculty and staff trying to identify students who might commit such crimes.

“We routinely remove 25 students a semester on medical removals because they just are not ready to be here. For some reason they don’t have the mental capacity to remain in the general population,” Twining said.

According to Twining, all faculty and staff are taught what to look for in a student who may be mentally ill. Some signs include students who stop daily routines such as eating and going to class. Others include students who stop shaving and stop doing work.

Seung-Hui Cho, the gunman of the Virginia Tech massacre in 2006 where 32 people were killed, had previously been diagnosed with a mental illness.

“Cho would not have been able to get back on campus if this happened at Quinnipiac,” Twining said.