Assessing threats on campus

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By Olivia Fox

Between numerous college shootings and the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, gun violence has come to the forefront of the media and in Washington as well.

Officer Dan Robles spoke of three threatening incidents that have taken place in the past few months. Two of them occurred at the area railroad school right next to the college.

Robles said the first incident occurred several months ago when a student of the railroad school had several firearms in his vehicle on campus. The student did not pose a threat to other students, Robles said, and was reprimanded accordingly.

The second incident occurred recently.

“A student worked in the railroad school building and had done a show-and-tell with a firearm for another person,” Robles said.

The person let faculty know, and officers approached the student the following day. As with the previous incident, Robles said the student posed no threat to anyone.

The third incident was a domestic situation that occurred in a campus parking lot. An exboyfriend grabbed a female, shook and threatened her. There was no threat of a weapon though, according to Robles.

Officer Robles said the usual reports they receive at the campus office are incidents of theft.

“Common occurrences are thefts in locker rooms: unlocked lockers, [stolen] backpacks, wallets, car keys, laptops, cell phones,” he said. “Those are our common crimes here. It’s not the display or use of any firearm here. That hasn’t been going on.”

Robles said the college adopted the A.L.I.C.E. program as its protection program last August.

The acronym stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.

The college has a few different notification systems for emergency situations. These include alert texts, alerts over the P.A. system and phone calls to classrooms.

The A.L.I.C.E. program advises students in an emergency situation to inform others by any communication means possible. This could be via text message, phone call, tweet or status.

The next step is to counter the attacker as a last resort. Officer Robles explained, at the Virginia Tech shooting, the shooter went down the aisle, shooting classmates at point blank range.

“If he [the shooter] had a mass amount of students swarm him and attack him, he would have had a harder time,” he said.

By using the swarm technique, the attacker will get distracted and have a much harder time shooting individuals.

The final step is to evacuate. Officer Robles stressed the importance of knowing your escape routes.

“Once you start getting distance between you and the intruder, and become a moving target, your percentages of being a victim go way down,” he said.

Robles added that while the campus police department’s goal is to get to the situation as fast as possible, they may not be there when activity initially breaks out.

“You guys are there. We [the police] aren’t in the classroom, you are handling the situation. You are taking them down right now, instead of waiting for us to arrive.”

Campus executive director of Audit and Advisory Services, Janelle Vogler, said the A.L.I.C.E. program gives students more information about what to do in a shooting, rather than just hide under a desk or table.

“You need to have options,” Vogler said.

Campus police officer Jim Keaton said the techniques taught in the A.L.I.C.E. course are applicable to everyone.

“The A.L.I.C.E. program is not just something you can apply here [on campus],” Keaton said. “We have to consider that this [a shooting] could occur at any time.”

April 20 marks the 14th anniversary of the Columbine school shootings. Since the shootings, schools across the nation have worked to put protection plans in place to prevent students from being unprepared in such a situation.

“You know the old Columbine days, a lot of that’s gone,” Robles said. “Waiting for the SWAT guys to arrive, I don’t know of any place that waits anymore.”

Contact Olivia Fox, reporting correspondent, at ofox@jccc.edu

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