The week after the Las Vegas shooting, Interim Campus Safety Director David Keetle sent a university-wide email with guidelines for what to do in an active shooter situation.
Attached to the message was the U.S. Justice Department’s Active Shooter Event Quick Reference Guide.
“We’ve sent (it) out for two or three years now,” said Loretta Rahmani, dean of student affairs. “That’s when, sadly, we saw more instances of active shooters nationally, with San Bernardino, with the incident in Huntington Beach, right after Virginia Tech.”
Rahmani said that the term is now ‘active assailant’ because assailants include shooters, knife attacks, and incidents in which people run their cars into buildings or people.
Rahmani said she thinks emails on what to do in an active shooter event should be sent out regularly, given the number of new students that come each term, and the frequency of shooter events.
“The frequency of these events has increased over the past 10 years,” Keetle said.
Keetle gave the campus safety officers printed copies to hand out to students on campus.
The guide says that in the event that you are in the same place as an active shooter, you have the option to run, hide, or fight.
Fleeing the location would be your first option. If you run, you plan an escape route, leave your things behind, help other people escape, and call 911 when you are safe. On your way out, you do not try to move anyone injured, and you try to ensure that no one goes where the shooter might be.
If you cannot leave, then hide. If you hide, you try to lock your door, or put some kind of barrier between you and the shooter, and you put your phone on silent.
Fighting the assailant should be your last resort. The guide recommends that you incapacitate the shooter and, if you can, improvise weapons.
Printed cards with information on emergency procedures in situations like active assailant, medical emergency, fire, earthquake, and bomb threats are distributed around campus, with a copy in several classrooms. The active assailant portion also advises “run, hide, fight.”
The Campus Safety website contains a link to a video called “RUN. HIDE. FIGHT. Surviving an Active Shooter Event” by Ready Houston, a program funded by Homeland Security. The video gives the same advice as the reference guide, and it shows a simulated version of an active shooting event at an office setting.
If campus safety is alerted of an active assailant on campus, safety officers would also contact La Verne Police Department.
“The first thing we’re going to do is call them, because we’re not armed,” Keetle said. “We would be doing whatever we can to assist the La Verne Police Department, but they would have the lead on investigation and suppression.”
In April 2016, the Campus Activities Board sponsored the Student Preparedness Event, where Rahmani showed a video called “Practical Responses to Active Shooter.” The video advised to “Get Out, Hide Out, and Take Out.”
Should students witness an active assailant event, on campus or elsewhere, they can go to Counseling and Psychological Services.
“With all of our students that were impacted directly by the shooter in Las Vegas, (they’ve) had access completely to our counselors so they could deal with the post traumatic stress,” said University of La Verne President Devorah Lieberman.
In the event of an active shooter event on campus, Lieberman added: “We would invest the resources that were needed, whether group sessions or adding more counselors. We would do what was needed, so that our campus can be healthy.”
Counseling and Psychological Services currently has a wait-list for students seeking appointments. If CAPS were to be overwhelmed by the needs of students, they would seek the help of other departments on campus or services outside the university.
“Every October and April, pretty much all universities get to wait-list status,” Elleni Koulos, director of counseling and psychological services, said. “Our department was overloaded, we had students waiting to be seen that haven’t been seen, so we talked about it with upper administration, and (this week) they approved emergency funding to hire another therapist.”
Koulos said that if students were to survive a school shooting, services would include individual therapy, group therapy, art activities and organizing efforts around giving the students the chance to “give back.”
Keetle said that campus safety is trying to organize a training session and mock scenario with LVPD to prepare students for an active shooter event. The next Mass Casualty Incident training session and mock scenario will take place Nov. 4 with the La Verne Fire Department and Civilian Emergency Response Team.
The University also has e2Campus, an opt-out service that sends alerts to each person subscribed to it. Anyone who wants to know other details about an emergency situation can call 1-855-858-2537. People can also download an app called LiveSafe on iTunes or Google Play.
Aryn Plax can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.