What started as an emergency response plan for West Virginia Universitys 60,000-seat football stadium and evolved into a campuswide program has arrested the worlds attention.

West Virginia University is among the semifinalists in the 2008 International Association of Chiefs of Police/Motorola Webber Seavey Awards for Quality in Law Enforcement for itsInitiation of an Emergency Planning Program.

University Police , which developed the program, will be recognized as one of the top 25 law enforcement agencies of 2008 during the annual IACP conference Nov. 10 in San Diego.

This was the first submission we ever sent in, and to finish as a semifinalist in this group is a very big achievement, particularly considering we are the only University in this group,Chief Bob Roberts said.

This years winners are Bundi District Police in Rajasthan, India; the Cincinnati Police Department; and the European Union Integrated Rule of Law Mission for Iraq based in Brussels, Belgium.

There are also seven finalists and 15 semifinalists, including the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and police departments from major metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, Kansas City (Mo.) and Houston.

Were in some good company,Roberts said.

WVU s entry involved the development of its emergency response plan , which defines various levels of emergencies and outlines the procedures for responding to them.

The plan was two years in the making and involved input from the WVU and greater Morgantown communities, Roberts said. CRA , a homeland security consultant, assisted in the project.

This started out as a plan for Milan Puskar Stadium and then the Coliseum,he said.After we got into it, we expanded it to include the development of an entirely new plan for the entire University.

Since the plan was enacted, all University Police officers have completed National Incident Management System training, and the department has upgraded all radios to allow communication with all emergency responders in the region, Roberts said.

WVU has also introduced student beat patrols , building emergency plans and a text messaging emergency alert system , Roberts added.

We look to build on this with additional training for our officers, continued participation in countywide emergency response drills, and expansion of our building emergency plan and text messaging system,he said.

Jointly sponsored by IACP and Motorola, the Webber Seavey Award is presented annually to agencies and departments worldwide in recognition of programs that exemplify law enforcements contribution to the quality of life in local communities. The award is named for IACP s first president.

More on the Net: http://www.theiacp.org/awards/webber/