“Violent actors … their mission is to kill as many people as possible, as quickly as they can,” Chief of Public Safety Jace Smith, said as he addressed attendees of Fridays active shooter drill.
The drill was held in Building 11 on Oct. 30 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. It focused on preparing Lane staff and students for a shooting on campus. As many as 50 people were in attendance, the vast majority of whom were staff or faculty members.
“After what happened at Umpqua Community College, I felt the need to know more about an active shooter,” said Mary Jo Kreindel, administrative coordinator of the Arts Division. “I felt at risk a little bit more and being the first person in the door I wanted to get some tips on what to do.”
Before the drill, Smith and his officers gave a multimedia presentation and multiple demonstrations using simulated weapons. Smith told the attendees they should not hesitate to choose between staying and barricading a room or evacuating the campus. He also stressed that there is no one way to escape an active shooter.
“No one will tell you what to do,” Smith said. “You have to decide for yourself based on the information you have.”
During the drill, Corporal Ben Bower, a Lane Public Safety officer, dressed in fatigues and stalked the classrooms and hallways of Building 11 with a simulated wooden assault rifle. Any participants that were found by Cpl. Bower were counted as casualties despite whether they were actively involved in the drill.
The drill ran for 15 minutes. Smith said that is under the average 8 to 10 minute response time it would take for law enforcement to arrive on campus after a 911 call is placed.
“As soon as the alarm went off, I went through the back door, barricaded myself in and there was another person in the front office who barricaded the front door,” Kreindel said. “I went behind the copy machine and waited.”
Cpl. Bower stated that he killed more than 40 people during the drill. Throughout the simulation he was escorted by other officers to ensure no one mistook him for an actual threat.
“I just made entry, cleared the most obvious places, looked under some desks, then I went on to the next room,” Cpl. Bower said. “If a room was locked, I didn’t try getting in. I just went to the next one.”
After the drill, participants reconvened for a debriefing where attendees expressed concerns about the lack of locks on classroom doors and that the emergency instructions were difficult to hear through the intercom system.
The drill also provoked discussion about whether or not Public Safety officers should be allowed to carry firearms on campus.
“I’ve always been against more guns, but after today, the way [Smith] was talking, I’m not sure anymore how I feel.” Kreindel said.
This has been a big issue of debate since last month’s tragic events at UCC, with some students and staff calling for officers to be armed. Others feel that armed Public Safety officers would create a more hostile environment on campus, weakening relationships between students and Public Safety.
“Some people don’t like guns, some people really like guns,” Smith said. “Whether you like them or don’t like them, it’s not going to change the fact that until someone can respond to an incident, people are going to die.”
Smith announced that any staff, faculty members or student organizations can schedule an active shooter workshop with Public Safety for no cost.