Police test emergency response in lockdown drill

Police move in to make the arrest in their lockdown scenario drill. Photo by Andrew Gonzales/The Et Cetera
Police and college administrators watch the lockdown drill from the police station. Photo by David Sanchez/The Et Cetera
Police and college administrators watch the lockdown drill from the police station. Photo by David Sanchez/The Et Cetera
By BRIANNA HARMON
@BHarmonETC

As a recorded announcement ordered students and employees to lock down the campus, screams erupted in the Pit.

“Put the gun on the ground,” a police officer yelled.
The Sept. 20 incident was staged, part of a lockdown drill to prepare students for violent activity on campus.

The scenario depicted a domestic dispute between two professors that erupted in violence when one pulled a gun on the other. Campus police worked to get the situation resolved as employees tried to get students to safety.

Such drills are common for campus police but have taken on new urgency after the July 7 ambush in Dallas that killed five police officers. The shooter entered sister college El Centro, fired a fatal shot from a second-story window and injured two college police officers before he was killed.

“After the dust settles and the case is complete, law enforcement will go back and look at the mistakes that were made,” Lt. Jose Hernandez said. “We do this so we can learn where we can do better, where we need more training.”

[READ MORE: Class policies may prevent student involvement]

During the drill, alarms that were supposed to go off around campus malfunctioned in G building.

First responder officers also experienced technical difficulties with their radios.

The officers kept hearing calls from other Dallas County Community College District police departments.

“We would rather test it and find out that it is not working now than to have an actual real situation and not be aware that it is happening,” Hernandez said. “So now we have to go back and look at those things and meet with the other entities in the college who are responsible for that and try to resolve some of these issues.”

Education major Jedidiah Starr said having lockdown drills makes him feel safe on campus. He thinks Eastfield should have more of them.

“For me as a student, it makes me feels safe because you never what is going to happen,” he said. “Having these lockdown drills lets me know that they really care about this issue. This is a very serious issue. We have to have these lockdown drills to know what to expect and what we need to do.”

Police move in to make the arrest in their lockdown scenario drill. Photo by Andrew Gonzales/The Et Cetera
Police move in to make the arrest in their lockdown scenario drill. Photo by Andrew Gonzales/The Et Cetera

Many students appeared confused and unsure about how to react during the drill.

Police ask faculty members to share safety information with their students, and videos and instructions are on the Police Department’s website.

During a lockdown, police advise people to hide in locked rooms and keep clear of windows.

Campus police also work with professors who are on the Community Emergency Response Team.

CERT members are trained to educate and assist students, staff and visitors in the event of an emergency.

Sandy Hampton, information specialist for Upward Bound, is also a member of CERT.

“Our main goal is when a emergency does arise, we are prepared to help get students and staff in place or off the campus safely,” Hampton said. “You just never know what is going to happen. It’s always best to over-prepare than to not prepare at all.”

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