Expanding safety and security: Liberty’s EMCE department designated as Region 3 Coordination Center

Liberty University’s Emergency Management and Community Engagement (EMCE) department was designated as Virginia’s Region 3 Coordination Center during a signing ceremony April 8 at its new headquarters on Mayflower Drive.

Speakers at the ceremony included Liberty President Dondi Costin, Vice President of Security and Public Safety Marcus Tinsley, Mayor of Lynchburg Stephanie Reed and National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist Phil Hysell.

The new Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will serve the community as an operational base ready to respond to emergencies both on Liberty’s campus as well as other Region 3 communities including Charlottesville, Farmville, Harrisonburg, Lynchburg, South Boston, Staunton and Waynesboro.

Tinsley opened the event by talking about the history and heart behind the new operations center.

“At Liberty University, we prioritize the safety and security of our community without exception,” Tinsley said. “This EOC — this Emergency Operations Center — is a testament to that. Liberty University is a safe place with a model program to ensure safety and security.”

Photo by Kristina Smith

Tinsley emphasized the facility’s ability to give dispatchers and law enforcement officers the tools necessary to manage a crisis from start to finish. He expressed gratitude to the Lord for the work that has been done to establish the facility.

“It is a blessing to be able to stand here today,” Tinsley said. “It is a testament to the wonderful blessings that our Lord is capable of bestowing.”

After Tinsley spoke, Costin took the podium to talk about the quality of the new EOC.

“I’ve been in a bunch of EOCs in my 36-year military career. … If you had told me that a university anywhere in the country had one that looked like this, I would have had to walk by sight and not by faith,” Costin said.   

Costin also spoke about how the building represents Liberty’s continued commitment to excellence, safety and the Lynchburg community. He communicated that it represents our identity in Christ.

“This building represents all kinds of things,” Costin said. “It represents a partnership that Liberty University has always had with our community and our region. It represents our commitment to excellence. It represents our commitment to safety. It represents who we are as believers in Jesus Christ.”

Shawn Talmadge, state coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, spoke about the center’s ability to allow for collaboration between Liberty, the weather service, Lynchburg police and others.

“When I walked in and I saw the size of excellence, this is truly a facility designed to support the community,” Talmadge said.

Photo by Kristina Smith

Talmadge recognized the number one goal of the facility — service to the community — and publicly declared his admiration for its purpose.

Near the end of the ceremony, the agreement for the new EOC building to become the Region 3 Coordination Center was signed by Liberty’s Director of Emergency Management and Community Engagement Jeff Hurtak, Costin, Tinsley and Talmadge.

Liberty was also certified as a “StormReady” campus by the National Weather Service, an achievement that only four universities in Virginia have received.

According to the National Weather Service, StormReady “uses a grassroots approach to help communities develop plans to handle all types of extreme weather — from tornadoes to winter storms.”

Tinsley said that the new facility will provide students with a new level of safety and security in almost any circumstance.

“The biggest thing for students to know is that 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, anything that occurs from the biggest natural disaster to the most regular event you’ve ever thought of, there are people here (who) are singularly focused on their safety and security,” Tinsley said. “There’s always somebody here focused on whether or not (students are) safe, and if something occurs, we can deal with it.”

For more information on Liberty’s EMCE Department, visit www.liberty.edu/security-public-safety/emergency-management.

Smith is the news editor for the Liberty Champion. Follow her on X

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