Campus police trained to respond to active shooters

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Police work with conduct officers to identify students with distressing behavior.

By Neven Jones

njones4@student.alamo.edu

Campus police recommend students follow three steps if they are in an active shooter situation — get out and call for help, hide and, as a last resort, resist.

This is the advice of district police Chief Don Adams from a Jan. 29 interview.

Although this has not happened in any of the five Alamo Colleges, 28 incidents have occurred in 2013, and 14 occurred this year at other schools around the country.

There have been notable incidents across the country since the Virginia Tech shootings in April 2007.

This incident prompted educational institutions to increase training and seek programs to identify and help students with serious behavior problems.

Most recently, on Jan. 21, a teaching assistant was shot to death at Purdue University inside the electrical engineering building.

An average active shooter incident lasts 12 minutes; 98 percent of the time the offender is a single shooter and 43 percent of the time the crime is over before police arrive, according to the FBI website.

It is important to remember active shooters are coming to kill, Adams said.

People often huddle together in a room in that situation, making it easier for the shooter to kill more people, he said.

Instead, it is better to separate and fight the shooter, he said.

If the shooter is outnumbered, attack or fight the shooter.

All district police officers are trained to respond to an active shooter situation, Adams said.

The officers go through advanced law enforcement rapid response training, or ALERT.

The training teaches the officers how to confront and contend with that type of threat, he said.

The active shooter response training is a 30-minute video called “Active Shooter Training Video.”

The video is available for employees through Alamo Learn but is not yet available to students, Adams said.

The video is presented by DPS, Enterprise Risk Management and the Center for Personal Protection and Safety.

Campus police are working on getting it online this year so students can go through the training, he said.

The police department works closely with this college’s conduct officers and can access the same database used to track repeated student problems, Adams said.

The police officers do not go into the database and start looking at student activity unless they are notified there is a problem with a particular student, Adams said.

Alamo Colleges use strategies of behavioral intervention, or SOBI, to help students with behavior problems who may need intervention.

An incident report form is available on the student affairs webpage for faculty, staff or students to fill out to alert conduct officers that a student may need help.

Student conduct Officers Tracy Floyd and Manuel Flores explained SOBI at a seminar Jan. 15.

SOBI began as a result of the Virginia Tech shootings.

The shooter had problems documented all over campus and each incident was handled as a separate issue, but departments were not talking to each other, Floyd said.

SOBI teams formed all over the country to funnel information to one location so patterns of behavior could be examined, Floyd said.

Distressing student behavior can come from many causes such as life stress or a psychiatric illness, Floyd said.

It may be difficult for some teachers to ask students if they are having thoughts of hurting themselves or someone else, she said.

“It’s better to risk offending a student than not responding to distressing behavior,” Floyd said.

Faculty and staff can take a mental health first aid class, offered through the Murguia Learning Institute to learn how to have these conversations with students, Floyd said.

In the event of an emergency, Floyd recommends calling campus police instead of the San Antonio Police Department because they know the campus better and can get here faster, she said.

“When you call SAPD, what you are going to get is someone saying ‘OK, give me the cross-streets of the Nail Technical Center, I’m five blocks away,’” Floyd said.

SAPD is not as familiar with this college as the campus police are, she said.

Campus police are fully licensed and available 24 hours a day to help students, Floyd said.

The campus police department is located at 1601 N. Main. Call 210-485-0911 for emergencies.

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