Every time you step out your front door, you are taking your life into your own hands, a life that could easily be taken away from you by somebody pointing a gun at you and pulling the trigger. It seems like you can’t go anywhere where violence cannot reach out and touch you.
The phenomenon of mass shootings in this country has Americans reluctant to go watch a matinee movie or attend mainstream events, such as theater, concerts, and ballgames. The recent Coronavirus scare has impacted our country on a large scale, affecting our social lives and limiting excursions out into the public domain. However, the real fear of getting caught up in a mass shooting incident is sobering enough to turn people into recluses.
According to the Statistical Research Department, “There were 41 mass shootings between 1982 and May 2022. Mass shootings have become the most common political issue that Generation Z is stressed out about. The United States sees the most school shootings in the world” https://www.statista.com/statistics/811487/number-of-mass-shootings-in-the-us/.
Many thanks to Chief Daniel Piazza, Deputy Chief Christopher Tipton, Training Sergeant Austin Slaton, and Police Lieutenant Patrick Solinski for providing critical information regarding our safety measures on campus.
Lieutenant Solinski is Campus Police’s Emergency Manager, and he is quick to guarantee the entire student body and faculty that campus police are ever vigilant and very protective of their OCCC (Oklahoma City Community College) family. According to Lieutenant Solinski, “The Campus Police Department (CPD) regularly trains for an active shooter event,” saying that, “This training prepares our officers to be as ready as possible to respond and neutralize any active threat.
Not only do we prepare for multiple officer responses, but also single officer responses. CPD is also equipped with the proper equipment to handle any active shooter situation. CPD maintains a good working relationship with the surrounding law enforcement agencies to ensure everyone responds accordingly”. Additionally, Solinski went on to say, “The OCCC Campus, Police Department and the OCCC Office of Emergency Management, conducts “Shelter-In-Place” drills usually once a year, during the spring semester. Our last drill was on April 13, 2022.
Day and evening classes, events, and activities were involved at all OCCC facilities, including the Main Campus, Capitol Hill Center (CHC), and the Family and Community Education (FACE) center. An actual “Shelter-In-Place” alert notifies the campus community of an Active Shooter or other dangerous situation on campus. All students, faculty, staff, and visitors on campus should remain where they are, lock and close doors, turn off lights, stay quiet, and remain hidden from view. If you are unable to hide, exit the building quickly and in a safe manner and go to a safe location. An “All Clear” message is issued at the conclusion of each drill.
“OCCC utilizes the Campus Alert Notification (CAN) system, which is designed to communicate information about emergency situations or campus closures that may be necessary. CAN activates voice messages on speakerphones, sends out emails, text messages, activates ALERTUS Beacons and public address systems. The beacons are installed throughout our campuses. When activated by OCCC CPD, they emit a warning tone, and the lights will flash, “Move to Safer Area” will transmit overhead and scroll across the screens. When it is safe to resume normal activities, an “All Clear” message will transmit and scroll across the screens.
When I asked Lieutenant Solinski about active shooter practice drills, he had this to say: “The OCCC Police Department practices active shooter drills that are always changing and evolving. We train on an average of 24 to 32 hours a year on active shooter training. We currently utilize a training program called LASER (Law Enforcement Active Shooter Emergency Response). This class is based out of LSU (Louisiana State University), who has partnered with NCBRT (National Center for Biomedical Research and Training). This class is focused on a one or two officer response and is realistic for what a response to an event like this would be.”
Lieutenant Solinski shared with us an impressive list of the training our campus police officers regularly receive to be more fully prepared in the event of an emergency on campus.
LASER ATRIC – Law Enforcement Active Shooter Emergency Response / Active Threat Integrated Response Course
ALERRT – Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training
ALERRT AAIR – Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training-Active Attack Integrated Response
FLETC – Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
MILO -Multiple Interactive Learning Objectives = shoot / don’t shoot scenarios.
The Lieutenant informed me that their officers are trained in the Run, Hide, Fight process that teaches you what you should do in the event of an active shooter on campus.
According to alertmedia.com, “Run Hide Fight: Pros and Cons,” the following are the procedures to follow in the event of an active shooter on campus:
“Run; In an active shooter event… run away as quickly as possible…to safety. Removing at-risk individuals from the scene entirely reduces the total number of potential victims. If you remove yourself from the situation…you should call 911 as soon as you reach safety.
Hide; If you believe the active shooter might be in your near vicinity…take cover and hide…immediately. Try to pick a bulletproof hiding place…that can be locked or barricaded.
Fight; When necessary…fight to protect yourself with whatever you have available to you. …use anything at your disposal to counter, disarm, or immobilize the shooter”
Run Hide Fight is a program developed by the United States Department of Homeland Security. This program is widely noticed throughout the Nation as the most recognized program available and is provided to all staff and students. Check with campus security for dates on upcoming training programs.
When I asked Lieutenant Solinski about police presence on campus, he was quick to assure me that OCCC’s Main Campus is patrolled 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and officers are stationed at each satellite campus during business hours. “Last year, CPD patrol officers conducted 10,305 interior walk-throughs (foot patrols) of OCCC buildings. This does not include the outside patrol presence in marked police units,” he added.
Sean Lynch, Professor of Digital Cinema Production, said that he feels completely safe on campus grounds and doesn’t worry about armed shooters infiltrating our classrooms. Lynch said,” I have never seen any problems here, but I am glad that campus police are on duty. We have a safe campus.”
It’s a dangerous business stepping out your front door these days, but one thing you can be sure of is that our personal bodyguards, our Campus Police Department, are on the job 24/7 to ensure the safety of the entire OCCC family. We can all breathe a little easier knowing that our Campus Police Department has our backs.