Campuses are the setting of 5% of active shooter incidents and Michigan State University became the 71st mass shooting of 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Barely scratching the surface of the new year, the incident last Monday was the first mass shooting at a U.S. school.
As part of Minnesota State University’s annual Disaster Awareness Week, a presentation informing staff with tips for surviving an active shooter incident was coincidently presented just days after the mass shooting.
Loren Jansen, emergency manager and security coordinator, says if your plan is to call 911, you need a better plan.
“What we are looking at is a mindset of awareness, preparation and rehearsal,” said Jansen.
Oftentimes there isn’t a direct connection to the campus of the attacker’s targets.
“Just like this Michigan State incident, no connection (between the shooter and the university). It’s just random,” Jansen said in the presentation. “It’s a place to go to. It’s a place where people are at, whether it’s the mall, the church or the school.”
Involving blank rounds and going through the motions of what to do in an active shooter situation, MSU security plans to partner with Blue Earth County and the city of Mankato’s emergency manager to conduct an active shooter drill during the summer of 2024.
“Practicing is a great learning exercise. It’ll teach us what went right and what went wrong,” Sandi Schnorenberg, director of campus security said.
With most mass shootings ending before the police arrive on the scene and MSU security not armed, their role would be supporting the police department and being the eyes in the sky as intelligence in an active shooter situation.
Equipped with roughly 200 cameras across campus, security would try and locate the attacker and inform police of their whereabouts.
Law enforcement’s first priority in an active shooter situation is to stop the attacker. After the campus is secure is when medical assistance would commence.
In implementing the “run, hide, fight” strategy, people are encouraged to educate themselves on something as simple as identifying their exit points.
“Take a few seconds to think ‘If I had to get out of here, where are my exits and where can I go if I had to hide?’ We all need to start thinking about that more,” Schnorenberg said.
Campus security opted into the Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response (ARMER), which is an 800 MHz statewide talk group that allows emergency groups to communicate and listen to each other on an encrypted channel.
“Having those partnerships has been huge. If they (police) come to campus we want to know and they might not have time to tell us beforehand,” Schnorenberg said.
Regarding prevention, campus security meets with a behavioral consultation team and brings up concerns for specific individuals who display signs of grievance.
“Want to know what is going on with them and figure out how to get them some help,” Schnorenberg said. “We can prepare to run, hide, fight but also we want to identify those people who may commit an act of violence and stop it ahead of time.”
Header photo: Run, Hide Fight is the protocol encouraged by the FBI in the event of an active shooter situation on campus. (File photo)
Write to Julia Lin at firstname.lastname@example.org