Last month, during a concert in Las Vegas, the United States witnessed its deadliest mass shooting in history as a gunman opened fire on concert-goers. 58 individuals were killed and over 500 were injured.
With nine mass shootings in 2017 alone, and four of the five deadliest shootings occuring in the past 10 years, mass shootings in U.S. cities and on school and college campuses are becoming an epidemic.
On the Hilltop, campus safety is always a top priority for Bradley University Police Department (BUPD) officers. The department goes through active shooter response training annually, which is constantly changing as more mass shootings occur.
According to BUPD Chief Brian Joschko, this has forced the department to adapt and evolve with new techniques.
Way back in the day, when I was a young officer and Columbine occurred, the response was very different. Officers held a perimeter around [the] building and called in [Special Weapons and Tactics], and it was the SWAT guys that would go into the facility and neutralized the suspect. Now, its very different, Joschko said. [Now], officers immediately go in, and they begin to look for where that shooter is.
To address these recent shootings, BUPD, Student Support Services and Student Senate hosted a screening of the documentary Newtown on Wednesday. The movie follows families and first responders of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre as they deal with their grief and promoting gun control years after the incident.
I think that in light of all of the mass shootings, we are seeing and the lack of change. Its really important that students and just people in general become more educated, Natalie Landin, senior class Student Senator, said. I think that what happened at Sandy Hook was really kind of the first point where people are now starting to realize that gun safety and gun issues are a true problem that is plaguing our country.
Brandon Sheraden, vice president of campus safety on Student Senate, said the recent shooting in Vegas has led to an increased need to inform college students on mass shooting protocol not only at Bradley, but at all schools.
With shootings becoming more common mass shootings specifically I think [educating students] is something every college should take into consideration, Sheraden, a senior criminal justice major, said. The chances that [a mass shooting] happens on their campus is not great, but it could always happen, so just preparing students for that situation can save many lives.
Following the screening of the movie, BUPD gave a presentation on steps and safety precautions all students should be aware of in the event of an active shooter on campus.
In the actual moment of an active shooter, the first thing is be aware of your surroundings; thats first and foremost, Joschko said. [Then] take charge of a situation. I think often times, in a moment of crisis, people look to leaders, and weve got some great student leaders on this campus. Dont be afraid to take charge.
According to Joschko, a key component in protecting campus and keeping the situation under control is eliminating the threat.
Our primary objective is absolutely finding and neutralizing that threat, Joschko said. Our goal is not necessarily helping people out of buildings and its not necessarily helping the injured, until we have that threat neutralized.
Joschko said BUPD prides itself on staying current and training intensively for these scenarios, consistently keeping practices updated.
We train active shooter response at least once a year and almost always twice a year Our officers could respond as well as, and in most cases, better than other police agencies across this country, Joschko said. Our officers would excel at it if we were ever put in that situation. The university has been incredibly supportive and has given us the tools and time to train these types of scenarios I have no doubt in the capabilities of our officers.
For any students interested in learning the exact steps recommended during a campus shooting, BUPD will present and explain the Campus Emergency Operations Plan to any group or organization free of charge.
We provide the training to the campus, the Campus Emergency Operations Plan training, so that people know and understand what the plan is and what actions they need to take until law enforcement is able to come and provide direct guidance to them, Joschko said.
See the Scouts Editorial “Get involved in gun control conversation” to read our take.