WATERVILLE (AP) – When Colby College senior Dawn Rossignol was kidnapped and murdered last September, colleges throughout Maine were forced to consider the ways they handle student safety and security, said Richard Mears, executive director of the Maine Community Policing Institute.

“Interesting enough, the other campuses wanted to know how they handled it, what kind of things worked well what didn’t work well,” Mears said Thursday at a campus security summit on the Colby campus.

“I think Colby was an ideal spot to say, ‘These are things you need to consider when you’re working with a student body and you have a tragic incident of this nature,”‘ he said.

Mears, the former Brunswick police chief and a professor at the University of Maine at Augusta, said security officials discussed what law enforcement and campus security did immediately after the Rossignol murder.

Speakers at the summit, which was sponsored by the University of Maine System, Colby College and the community policing institute, also addressed everyday security concerns like nighttime lighting at parking lots as well as violent crime and terrorism.

“Colleges and universities are attractive to terrorists because of the density of people,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney William J. Schneider, an anti-terrorism expert. “Look at your facility; if I were a terrorist, what kind of things would I attack to accomplish my goal?”

Keynote speaker Melvin L. Tucker was the Tallahassee, Fla., police chief 25 years ago, when serial killer Ted Bundy entered a Florida State University sorority house and attacked four sleeping female students. Two died as a result of their injuries.

Tucker said college and university officials must teach students to pay careful attention to safety strategies, and that institutions need to address security challenges with up-to-date programs.

During a lunchtime discussion, several groups of attendees said that Maine colleges and universities can become complacent about security because the state has a low crime rate.

“We are not likely to experience homicides on our campuses, therefore we don’t expect to have these things happen,” Tucker said. “That in itself is dangerous and we need to be eternally vigilant.”

Mears said he expected this to be the first of several security conferences for Maine’s colleges and universities.

“We will not accomplish solving all these problems with one summit meeting,” he said. “We’re talking about a number of meetings to address a number of issues to give each other advice on what to look for.”

AP-ES-02-06-04 0217EST



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