The demands facing officers at the Department of Public Safety in the weeks following the terror attacks were enormous: two bomb threats, suspicious powder spilling from envelopes at 651 Serra St., a deluge of callers reporting packages that seemed to be ticking and a steady stream of requests for extra security. It would have been daunting under the best of circumstances, but last September, the force was still making the transition to a new chief, says Laura Wilson, a lieutenant at the time. Chief Marvin Moore steadied the department by sending out the message, "Let's continue business as usual. Don't overreact, don't panic," Wilson recalls. It is Wilson who now is providing leadership, having been named chief after Moore died unexpectedly of a heart attack in February.
Although the past year has been "chaotic," things are back to business as usual, Wilson says. "Requests for extra security have really leveled off. Some changes have happened, like the decision not to allow backpacks into the stadium. For large events, we take extra precautions.
"One thing that has certainly changed is that Sept. 11 made local law enforcement more aware of the need to coordinate training for all types of disasters. We have done a more thorough analysis of where hazardous materials are on campus and what buildings could potentially be more dangerous than others."
Wilson says that, looking back, what strikes her are not the isolated threats but the civility of campus discourse. "One of the things that most impressed me about the community was the willingness to listen and try and maintain open minds over topics that are sensitive and emotional."
Stanford Report, September 11, 2002