EDITORIAL: Rutgers needs practice to be protected
Active shooter drills on campus are important to security
From 2013 to 2015, 47 percent of school shootings occurred at colleges and at universities. So it is appropriate that the Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD) executed a drill in order to practice what faculty and staff should do in the case of an active-shooter threat on campus.
The drill was focused on the reactions and responses of Rutgers employees and officers in the face of a dangerous situation. RUPD used the normal working conditions of employees and simulated scenarios that included the threat of an active shooter. This training session, which used the imitation of the sights and sounds that one might experience during shooter incidents, is a continuation of other simulations and tests that have been scattered over the last several months. After trial and error, as well as feedback from those partaking in the drills, RUPD has been able to refine their training and effectively prepare Rutgers employees in assisting officers during an active-shooter threat. At the end of the day, those who had participated in the drill had felt that the information they learned was helpful.
With Rutgers fortunately avoiding gun violence but having faced a tragic stabbing instead, it is understandable that some may feel that these drills taking place are not as beneficial as RUPD is making them out to be. In fact, for some students, the recollection of Rutgers’ testing system in June 2016 was a prime example that the active-shooter protocols need improvement.
Last summer, Rutgers sent out a series of texts in the form of an “RU Alert,” stating: “Armed suspect in area of alexander library (sic). Seek a safe space and shield/secure your location.” Although the texts included “TEST” at the bottom, many Rutgers students who received the alert were alarmed and frightened, despite Rutgers sending out emails about the upcoming drill the day before. But this is the reason that RUPD has worked to improve these drills.
Although Rutgers’ campuses may not have been the target of gun violence, the truth of the matter is that anything can happen at any time. Twenty-three shootings occurred on college campuses in just 2015, and Rutgers’ attempts to actively combat the unpreparedness for these shootings are anything but a bad idea. Just because there have been no drastic gun violence attacks at Rutgers does not mean that we should not prepare for the worst. This is the same reasoning that justifies Rutgers’ extended suspension of Kevin Allred, who was a professor in the Department of Women's and Gender Studies. Allred, who is known for his unique teaching styles and controversial opinions, published a potentially threatening post on his Twitter account. The tweet, where Allred raised a hypothetical situation about shooting white students, caught the immediate attention of Rutgers officials last semester. Allred has not been officially terminated but continues to remain on suspension. This is because Rutgers is doing what it should as a university — prioritizing the safety of its students and not taking any chances.
RUPD taking precautions in case of active-shooter situations is a smart move. That being said, Rutgers should be extending these drills to students as well. There is only so much one can do to prepare for something so horrible, and only training faculty and staff in case of an emergency may not be enough to secure the safety of the community. Preparing each and every member of Rutgers for worst-case scenarios is giving the University the best odds.
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