Campus security improvements to launch in October in response to March 2 shooting

Police gather as they search for the Campbell Hall shooter on March 2 at Central Michigan University.

Seven months after a deadly shooting claimed two lives in Campbell Hall, Central Michigan University faculty and students will finally see substantial improvements to campus security in October.

Among the new resources that will be available to students and faculty is a new and improved website designed specifically to be a source of information during crisis events.The exact date in October when the website will be launched has not yet been determined.

Lt. Cameron Wassman said planning to rework campus security procedures began immediately after the March 2 shooting in Campbell Hall that resulted in the deaths of James Davis Sr. and Diva Jeneen Davis.

"Various university entities started getting feedback from departments across the university to look at not only reviewing how the university responds to these types of incidents, but what CMU is doing and what should it be doing in order to improve safety campus-wide," Wassman said.

Wassman said several "emergency management committees" worked throughout the summer to designate five aspects of campus security that could be improved upon:

  • Communications
  • Access control 
  • Emergency management process
  • Education and training
  • Emergency planning

Wassman said the issue of communication during the shooting was one that university got the most comments and complaints on, and was the area of security the most time was spent on improving. 

While the university did put out situational updates on March 2 in the form of Central Alert notifications and changing the homepage to be an emergency alert notice, many questioned whether the information was timely enough or detailed enough, Wassman said.

"In the event of an emergency, the first piece of information — even though it may be brief and not the full story — will come through Central Alert," Wassman said. "From there, university members will be directed to a website similar to what (the university) tried to do on March 2, but better organized — it's a much improved version."

Once on the website, University Communications will provide updates on the situation as they come in — information that will also go out on the university's social media channels.

"Access control" refers to the the implementation of electronic access controls in residence halls and graduate housing, which have electronic locks on all exterior doors, Wassman said. In the future, the university will be looking for other places to potentially improve electronic security, including academic office areas and residence halls.

Other improvements will come in the form of web-based training procedures on topics like how to properly prepare for emergencies, like the one that took the lives of James Davis Sr. and Diva Jeneen Davis.

The Davis' were shot and killed the morning of March 2 in the fourth floor of Campbell Hall. Their son, James Eric Davis Jr., 19, was arrested after a 15-hour manhunt and accused of double homicide. 

Davis Jr. was declared incompetent to stand trial on March 23 by Isabella County Chief Judge Paul H. Chamberlain, and ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment through the State Department of Mental Health.

Since then, Davis Jr.'s status has not changed, and at this time remains not competent to stand trial, said Mark Kowalczyk, the attorney currently representing Davis Jr. 

Under Michigan Law, a defendant found incompetent has 15 months to regain competency, though the deadline can be extended further if necessary.