State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Charlie Crist
Governor

Robert A. Butterworth
Secretary


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Al Zimmerman
May 24, 2007 850-488-4855

Governor’s Task Force for University Campus Safety Submits Recommendations
~ Final report highlights the need for increased communication, resources and mental health education throughout the state ~

TALLAHASSEE- Department of Children and Families Secretary and Chair of the Gubernatorial Task Force for University Campus Safety Bob Butterworth released the task force recommendations today following the conclusion of yesterday’s final task force meeting. The task force, created by Governor Crist on April 30, 2007, met throughout the month of May to solicit ideas and suggestions on how to strengthen campus safety at Florida’s colleges and universities following the recent tragedies that occurred at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

"I applaud Governor Crist and the members of the task force for acting so quickly and thoughtfully to address this issue," said Butterworth. "What happened at Virginia Tech could happen anywhere, so it’s important that we make sure Florida’s university students, faculty and staff know how to spot potential problems and take the actions that could save lives."

The task force report highlights several key areas of improvement, including increased communication among local and university law enforcement; university and college faculty, staff and students; and state and federal partners who could assist in the event of an emergency. The report also recognizes the need for more comprehensive and widespread education about mental illness particularly signs of mental distress and potentially violent behaviors.

"Many of us were shocked and frightened by the events that unfolded at Virginia Tech, but it’s important we make the distinction between individuals with mental illness in need of services and those individuals who may become violent to themselves or others," said Bill Janes, Vice-Chairman of the Task Force. "We have heard about problems that require immediate attention and some that will take time to correct. We have also heard about great initiatives on our campuses and by our emergency responders. Our report summarizes hours of testimony that will improve security and safety in Florida and nationally."

Additional recommendations include measures to recruit additional law enforcement personnel to college and university campuses and to improve overall mental health services in Florida. The group also recognized several best practices already used in various regions of the state that could be applied statewide, such as mental health peer support on college and university campuses and emergency telephone systems campus-wide. To access the Gubernatorial Task Force for University Campus Safety full report, visit http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/campusSecurity.


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