Would campus security be able to handle an on-campus shooting?

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Amari D. Pollard '17, Staff Writer

It has been more than six years since the Virginia Tech shooting, yet the piercing gun shots are still ringing in the ears of Americans today. Since then, the occurrence of on-campus shootings have been rare, but recent events seem to indicate a revival of anxiety surrounding the possibility of another similar tragedy.

When it comes to safety on college campuses, the questions and concerns come from parents, while students find themselves more interested in the quality of dining hall food. Unfortunately, this attitude lets students fail to realize how vital a role security plays in the flow of an on-campus community.

According to Le Moyne’s Director and Associate Director of Security, John O’Brien and Mark Petterelli respectively, students and faculty tend to think that the main responsibilities and issues campus security deals with only involve on-campus parking. Even though parking is important to the security office, the department’s duties go beyond ticketing a car parked in the wrong lot.

Over the past year, the U.S. has had an influx of mass shootings, resulting in complete devastation and trepidation. The rate at which these events are increasing is quite alarming and once again raises the question: Are we safe on the Le Moyne campus?

That question may be impossible to answer. But in the meantime, Le Moyne campus security is working to make sure that everyone who steps foot on this campus can feel safe here.

According to O’Brien, the Sandy Hook shooting last year was somewhat of a catalyst in reevaluating the Le Moyne security system.

“There are three initiatives we set out to do in order to better prepare ourselves,” O’Brien said.

These three initiatives focus on educating the Le Moyne community, the protection of Le Moyne classrooms and the implementation of effective warning devices on campus.

When it comes to education O’Brien says the initiative is a campus-wide effort.

“We have been working through different departments and offices over the last four months to educate our population about an active shooter situation.”

“We have to really educate ourselves on what do we do in those first ten to fifteen minutes before law enforcement gets here,” Petterelli added. “So we started with security and then set up appointments with different faculty, and that education will hopefully continue to the student body as the program grows.”

In order to fulfill the second initiative, campus security took a survey of all on-campus classrooms and labs to check safety liabilities in case of this type of event. They were surprised to learn only a handful of those rooms could be locked from the inside.

“It is vital, if something were to happen, that people in classrooms have the ability to lock the doors,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien and the rest of security have made it their duty in the last couple of months to make sure that the maximum amount of classrooms can be locked from both the interior and exterior.

O’Brien also pointed out that many school shootings result in more deaths because the classrooms are not able to lock from the inside, making it easier for the shooter to have access. In many cases, people have had to improvise by using convenient objects-filing cabinets or chairs to guard the door, instead of locks, to ward off threats. Since January, Le Moyne security has been revamping classroom safety, providing around 90 percent of the classrooms with the proper safety locks.

So, campus security has educated its community on campus-shooting preparedness, and has checked the safety of classrooms. But, how will students be notified in case of this event?

“[Campus security] is happy to say that we have almost completed the installation of a warning system that will announce to everybody across this campus that there is some type of emergency,” O’Brien said. “And in a matter of one to two weeks, this extremely expensive, state-of-the-art purchase will be up and running.“

Campus security is not only ahead of the curve with the installation of this first generation warning system, but for the past five years, security has also provided its grounds with an emergency notification system called Heights Alert. In case of an on-campus emergency, this system will send text messages to students and voicemails to all of the land lines in residence halls with information and instructions regarding the emergency. Registration is required to receive Heights Alerts; and unfortunately, Petterelli says that a very small percentage of students actually sign up for this service. To sign up, visit echo.lemoyne.edu and click on Heights Alert on the right sidebar.

When dealing with potential emergencies like on-campus shootings, John O’Brien says “it’s important for students to have confidence in people like us, who know what we’re doing and doing something about it.”

Students, faculty members and parents looking to become more informed and aware of Le Moyne campus security can check out Student Safety and Security at lemoyne.edu, where all the efforts campus security is making to prevent crime at Le Moyne are listed.

 

There is no guaranteed way to ensure anyone’s safety when it comes to an on-campus emergency, but you can better improve those chances by educating yourself. By reading the annual campus crime statistics [located on page 2] and registering for Heights Alert, you can better prepare yourself for an emergency here at Le Moyne.

A closing reminder from Associate Director of Security Mark Petterelli is that “everyone should trust. Have trust in the fact that a lot of people are making important steps to protect every student and person here at Le Moyne.”