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One Year After UNC Charlotte Shooting, Area Universities Upgrade Campus Security Policies

While UNC Charlotte officials are still waiting on the results of a review, nearby universities have taken action to hire new personnel, expand active shooter training and more.

It has been just over a year since a student enrolled at the University of North Carolina Charlotte opened fire in a classroom on April 30, 2019, killing students Riley Howell and Reed Parlier and injuring four others. The gunman, who had an autism diagnosis and said he did not target any particular students, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in September.

Now, UNC Charlotte is awaiting the results of a six month external security review as surrounding universities have implemented their own security upgrades. The review has not been completed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is expected to finish this summer, spokesperson Buffie Stephens told NBC affiliate WCNC.

Late last year, university officials took an interim measure by placing lockdown kits in about 700 classrooms. These kits include two devices that can barricade a door, which addressed previous concerns that more than half of classroom doors could not lock from the inside.

"I think we continue to improve," John Bogdan, Associate Vice Chancellor for Safety and Security at the university, told WCNC. "Our long-term plan is to try and get to some sort of locking device or barricade device for every door."

Other universities in the region have taken their own steps to avoid having an active shooter take lives on their campuses. Before transferring to UNC Charlotte, the gunman spent several years at Central Piedmont Community College, which made the school take notice and implement their own security changes.

Earlier this year, a security consultant gave 41 security vulnerability recommendations for the school to address, including a recommendation to hire a new emergency management administrator and improving different aspects of the university’s security operations.

University officials are currently working to fill the position and are interviewing candidates, said CPCC’s marketing and communication chief Jeff Lowrance.

"The areas covered in the assessment included, but were not limited to, the campus exteriors and perimeters, buildings, landscaping/vegetation, vehicular movement, security hardware, security controls, intrusion detection, video surveillance, access control, security personnel staffing and organization, policies and procedures, personnel training, and communications systems," Lowrance told WCNC.

Other nearby universities who have increased active shooter training and improved crisis communication systems include Johnson C. Smith University, Davidson College and Winthrop University.

JCSU police chief Jermaine Cherry said the school has increased its active shooter and survival training and adopted “rapid deployment techniques” for campus police.

“We can always become better at what we're doing," Cherry said. "Things change, tactics change, therefore we as a law enforcement community have to be able to change with the times."

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