By the time Wendell Flinchum was named chief of the Virginia Tech police department in December, he had led the department through one violent crisis, reports USA Today. On the first day of the semester, classes were canceled as police combed the campus looking for a local jail inmate who had escaped by overpowering a police officer. The suspect was not captured on campus; Flinchum, 45, was commended by the Virginia governor for his leadership.
Now, he is being criticized for not warning students more quickly about Monday’s shooting deaths. Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine will appoint a panel at the university’s request to review authorities’ handling of the disaster. Most colleges and universities with more than 7,000 students have police forces with armed officers, said Steven Healy, chief of the Princeton University police force and president of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Agencies. Healy said it’s a “myth” that campus police are glorified security guards. Nor can a sprawling college campus be locked down the way a high school could, he said.