The horrific massacre that rocked the community of Rosenburg,Ore. not only brought attention to the issue that’s plaguing the nation and reignited the gun control debate, but it also raised a new question, what steps will campus police take to make community colleges safe?
The gun violence in learning institutions has seemingly graduated out of grade schools and has begun to terrorize colleges, shattering the sense of security for students of all grades and ages. Law enforcement at campuses has begun to take action against this crisis to avoid a future tragedy.
“All the campuses in the district along with the continuing ed sites, we have implemented various training programs, just recently we’ve gotten the ALICE program,” said Lt. Gilberto Torres, the new head of the police department of the San Diego community college district and continuing education sites. “That’s what we’re doing for now, the immediate training that were providing for staff, faculty and the community as a whole. It will be one of many baby steps that were taking.”
The ALICE training, which has been used in the district for some time now, stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. The innovative training designed to combat this problem consists of drills and assimilations in which its managed by designated officers who pretend to be the shooters and the staff act as instructed whether it is to attack the perpetrator with weapons, which in this training they are plush objects or evacuate accordingly.
According to Sgt. Jerome Saludares, who is also in charge of the safety in Mesa College, officers do the training at least two times a year. Campuses within the district such as: Miramar and City College have had the training, and soon it will be Mesa’s turn. Though faculty members and campus authorities go through this training, it is expected to become available to students in the future where they can attend this training much like the Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) classes offered every semester.
Lt.Torres has been in law enforcement for over 30 years and Sgt. Saludares for almost 20 and even though they have both come across several alarming incidences in their careers, they have been fortunate and have yet to encounter an active shooter in a campus environment and strive to prevent it and be prepared to combat it along with the college community.
“I tell people all the time, that the tools that we give you, you may not need them here on campus but they’re tools of life,” said Lt. Torres on how the training can aid individuals if they find themselves in an active shooter situation. “You go to a mall, you go to a place of worship, you go to a movie theater; you could at least revert back to some of the training that they have received.”
“Right now the main safety tip is to be observant,” said Sgt. Saludares. “And if anything, just does not sit well and its very suspicious call our college police or 911 and report that because anything little, you never know what it may end up.”
“Raising awareness, probably just among the students,” said 20-year-old Bradley Messer, who is pursuing a history degree at Mesa College, when asked how campus authorities can prevent gun violence. “This is a real thing that has been happening and it’s a possible threat, I know it seems very far away when you’re hearing about it in the news.”
Though authorities at Mesa are still working to make these drills available for everyone, they still advise students to remain vigilant and should an incident occur, to run if the opportunity is presented, help others along the way, and most importantly, immediately contact authorities.
To contact campus police to report a crime call: (619) 388-6405
To learn more about the ALICE training visit: http://www.alicetraining.com/