COREY WILLIAMS, Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) — Some of Michigan’s larger universities and community colleges say they have plans for police officers to deal with gunmen on their campuses and measures in place to keep students and staff safe.
Nine schools surveyed by The Associated Press following the Oct. 1 killing of nine people at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, said campus police officers routinely train for such threats.
In 1999, two students killed 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Shootings in the years since Columbine have included the slayings of 20 children and six adults in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, and the 2007 killings of 32 students, faculty and staff by a student at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.
Michigan State University began implementing new training standards after the Columbine shooting, and the most recent full-scale exercise was performance in 2012, the school’s public safety Capt. Penny Fischer said.
“We went through all the steps we would go through: response and managing the scene and recovery efforts. We also do drills with our officers on what to do,” Fischer said.
Information on responding to threats is shared with other police agencies. “With the community, we share plans with what should they do if the event happened and what could they do to be safer,” Fischer added.
In addition to Michigan State University, the AP also received responses for information on security measures from the University of Michigan, Wayne State, Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, Western Michigan and Northern Michigan. Mott Community College in Flint and Wayne County Community College District in the Detroit area also responded.
Wayne State University spokesman Matt Lockwood said the school has “a crisis management team that meets monthly for table-top exercises on what to do in the event of everything from power outages and tornadoes to active shooters.”
Mott Community College developed a plan to fit the school’s specific needs from portions of federal, state and local active shooter trainings around the country, Public Safety Lt. Eric McElroy said.
“By continuously training using scenario-based situations we are able to respond effectively and efficiently to active threats on campus,” he added.
Schools say they also reach out to students and staff, and offer training on how to react when in danger from someone with a gun. Mott Community College has emergency response teams that include specially trained volunteer staff members that help assist in response and evacuation in all emergency situations, McElroy said.
While most of the schools don’t use metal detectors in campus buildings, nearly all have some type of emergency call box or telephone system in place. Some are able to remotely lock building and classroom doors during emergencies and threats.
Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, west of Detriot, has installed more than 700 security cameras around campus and has a high-tech command center that operates around the clock.
But the nature of college campuses and their open corridors and accessibility make them vulnerable, Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards Executive Director David Harvey said.
“We’re never going to be able to stop (campus shooters) completely,” Harvey said. “The only other (option) is you become like a military base and close down, and that’s not our way.”
The organization offers 26 active shooter training courses for police agencies across the state, including campus officers. It also sets police academic curriculum that includes active shooter scenarios. The commission board is appointed by Michigan’s governor.
Harvey said training was started last year on identifying and dealing with people with mental illness.
“People with mental illnesses being out in our society is a problem all over the country,” he said. “We just don’t have the places for these people for treatment.”
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