Campus police and security details at colleges across the country are on alert as commencement season begins in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings and other recent violent incidents.
At the University of Pittsburgh, where more than 6,000 students will graduate on Sunday, campus police are ready. They put in place security enhancements last spring after more than 130 bomb threats rocked Pitt's Oakland campus.
“This year we are keenly aware of what happened in Boston, so we have additional coverage and we have (intelligence) reports from the city and FBI,” said Pitt Police Chief Tim Delaney.
Last summer, four months after Pitt's commencement, authorities arrested Adam Scott Busby in Ireland for the Pitt bomb scares. Authorities did not reveal a motive for the threats. Busby, 65, who has ties to the Scottish National Liberation Group, remains in prison in Ireland.
“Several countries want him, and I think we're second in line behind Great Britain,” said Jimmy Kitchen, the assistant U.S. attorney in Pittsburgh handling the case.
The university advised family members and friends planning to attend graduation ceremonies at Petersen Events Center to arrive early and to leave backpacks, large purses and packages at home.
Although Pitt anticipated a larger crowd than other schools in the region, Delany said he's comfortable with security measures the school put in place. People expressed gratitude for the extra attention last spring, he said.
“If anyone was unhappy, I didn't hear about it. These are all our children here, so we need to make sure they're safe. ... We have cameras, we have portable bomb-sniffing machines. We have trained K-9 dogs. We've fairly advanced compared to some schools,” he said.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania officials declined to discuss security measures for the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Center, where commencement will take place May 18.
“We have re-examined our security plan and put some security in place that will enhance it. It might not be something people see at the event, but I can assure you it will be in place,” said IUP spokeswoman Michelle Fryling.
At Robert Morris University in Moon, which scheduled May 10 and 11 graduation ceremonies at Sewell Center, a school spokesman said campus security officers would sweep the arena with bomb-sniffing dogs beforehand.
“As always, our armed police force will be on duty. While the tragedy in Boston has certainly heightened the perception of danger, we do not believe that there is any greater risk this year at our commencement ceremonies,” said Robert Morris spokesman Jonathan Potts.
California University of Pennsylvania expects about 6,000 people for ceremonies on May 17 and 18. Ed McSheffery, chief of campus police, said he will have extra manpower.
“We will be taking extra security measures to make sure everything goes well,” he said.
Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.