Kansas college's security under scrutiny after stabbing attack on dean

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 | 6:27 p.m. CDT; updated 11:03 a.m. CDT, Thursday, September 16, 2010

KANSAS CITY — Security at a Kansas City community college has come under scrutiny after a dean was stabbed while several people were awaiting the arrival of Gov. Jay Nixon.

Mark James, chancellor of the Metropolitan Community College system, said Wednesday he would be reviewing security plans in the five-campus system to see where improvements could be made in the wake of the attack that injured Albert Dimmitt Jr., dean of instruction at Penn Valley Community College.

"It is not until you actually have a real event that you ferret out where your gaps and your holes are in your planning process," James said at a news conference. "I want to do everything I can to bulletproof our plan."

Dimmitt was stabbed in the neck Tuesday morning as he stood with other administrators at Penn Valley waiting for Nixon to announce details of $57 million in federal funds to expand high-speed broadband access in Missouri. Nixon, who was still at the Kansas City airport when the attack occurred, canceled the event after learning of the attack.

The suspect, 22-year-old Casey Brezik of Raytown, made his initial court appearance Wednesday. Brezik, a new student at Penn Vally, has been charged in Jackson County with two felony counts each of first-degree assault and armed criminal action. Two of the charges are related to the attack on Dimmitt, and two allege that Brezik also injured James, who said he was "nicked" by the knife in the chest as he tried to help Dimmitt.

Brezik, who did not have an attorney with him and does not have one listed on court records, was shackled at the hands and feet and stood quietly while a judge read him the charges. The judge entered not guilty pleas and scheduled an Oct. 6 court appearance.

Police and prosecutors have not discussed a possible motive for the alleged attack. Nixon's office said the attack did not appear to be related to the governor.

James said Brezik had been enrolled at Penn Valley for about three weeks, and "this was not somebody that was on our radar screen to be on the lookout for."

Dimmitt was hospitalized in good condition Wednesday and was expected to make a full recovery, MCC officials said. Dimmitt's son, Andrew Dimmitt, issued a statement from the family saying his father was doing well and "looking forward to returning" to work as soon as possible.

One security improvement option already under consideration is to boost the campus security force of about a dozen guards to a state-certified armed police force, James said. Penn Valley has about 6,700 students, while the MCC system has an enrollment of about 20,000 students.

He said the college system would also be reviewing how it notifies students, faculty and staff in the event of an emergency.

In a posting earlier Wednesday on the MCC blog, James warned that while new security considerations were under way for the system, the MCC colleges would not "become an armed encampment hiding behind metal detectors."

"Our campuses are no less safe than any other public venue," James said. "Yesterday's incident was the first of its kind in MCC's 95-year history, and we need to keep that in perspective as we emotionally process this event."

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