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When deciding what subject the Shepherd Union Building staff training meeting should address, Monika Rodie, associate director of the building, said the recent shooting in Aurora, Colo., came to mind.
“I thought, ‘It’s time we revisit this whole thing, and it’s so sad that we live in a world like this, but it’s so important and people need to be aware,’” Rodie said.
The SUB administrative staff held the active shooter training Friday and invited all the departments of Weber State University. Lt. Mike Davies of the WSU Police Department showed a training video, discussed how to survive an active shooter situation and encouraged attendees to report suspicious behavior to the police.
According to the video, people have the same chance of being in an active shooter situation as they do of being struck by lightning. However, according to the video, someone somewhere is struck by lightning every day.
The video taught attendees that the best way to survive an active shooter situation is for people to plan out beforehand what they will do if in that situation.
“The killing starts when that first round goes off, and, until we get there, you’re responsible,” Davies said after the video finished.
The video outlined a plan: get out, hide out or take out. First, if people hear sounds that could be gunshots, they need to get out of the building and call 911. If escape is impossible, people should hide out in a place that offers protection with heavy furniture that can be pushed against the door. If people are face to face with the shooter, people must take out the shooter and be more aggressive than they ever thought possible.
If police arrive on the scene, the video taught that people should get on the ground, put their hands in the air, cooperate and direct the responders to where the shooter is.
Davies said that, unlike in the video, the first responders onto a active shooter scene will not be from SWAT.
“The two guys first on the scene that go in aren’t suiting up; they’re going to look like this,” he said as he waved his hand over his uniform. “We’re helpers by nature, but if you’re injured, we can’t stop and help you, because we have to terminate that shooter before he kills anyone else.”
Davies said there are pre-incident indicators and behavior a shooter exhibits before actually carrying out the attack.
“These warning signs aren’t anything big; in fact, they’re often small,” Davies said. “One small piece that comes from one person and another small piece from another if they decide to report it.”
Davies then explained the role of the Student Assistance and Intervention Team, a WSU committee including representatives from the police department, housing, counselors, the dean of students, and professors when needed. In their meetings, members bring up behavior they’ve seen students, faculty or staff members exhibit.
“As a professor, you might have a student who has written some violent essays in class, and in today’s environment, that’s cause for concern,” Davies said. “Maybe he just enjoys graphic novels, but maybe it’s something else entirely.”
Davies said the committee and police department can’t make the connections of who to keep on their radar if possible suspicious behavior is not reported.
He shared an example of a WSU student who reported a woman being kidnapped and put into a van. The witness said she didn’t know if it was a joke, but she called it in anyway. A man had kidnapped his estranged wife from campus and, thanks to that witness, police found the woman before she died.
“That night it was on the news, and the next day, I got to work and eight people had called saying, ‘I saw that too. Do you want me to testify?’” Davies said. “Eight people also saw but didn’t call it in. If that one person hadn’t called it in, that woman would have been dead when we found her.”