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University police is ready to protect

By | February 22, 2008 | News (2)
University Police officers trained with Fresno and Clovis police officers in Active Shooter Training Scenarios on Jan. 11.  Scenarios included an active shooter in a residence hall and a hostage situation in the Atrium Courtyard.
Courtesy of University Police

Bloodshed on campus may seem like a very real possibility these days. But the University Police Department wants Fresno State students to know they are in good hands following the Feb. 14 shooting at Northern Illinois University (NIU) that killed six students, including the gunman.

Campus police chief David Huerta held a press conference the day after the shooting to discuss campus safety protocols.

“I am confident that if a call came into our communications center that we have a gunman on our campus that we are going to have a lot of officers rolling right now,” Huerta said. “They know what to do when they get there and they know how to handle themselves.”

There are about 20 officers on the campus police force, with two to three officers on duty for each shift. All are trained in active shooting protocols along with the Fresno and Clovis police departments. The last training took place in the area of the dorms in January while students were on winter break.

Huerta also makes regular contact with a network of campus police chiefs across the nation to discuss ideas on safety protocols. The campus police chief from Virginia Tech, where 33 students died in a shooting last April, has visited Huerta and his officers to discuss the shooting and what Fresno State can do to prevent a similar incident.

Huerta said that the first priority, should a shooting be reported, would be to contact those in the immediate vicinity of the incident, including building safety coordinators.

Officers would respond to the scene, ready to do whatever it takes to deal with the situation.

“We’re telling our officers you have no choice,” Huerta said “You have no choice, you must go, you must contact, you must deal with the individual and stop that person.”

Officers would also consider whether the students at multiple points may be in danger, like in the Virginia Tech shooting. Contact would be made with students and staff throughout the rest of campus.

In August 2006, when a bank robbery chase sent shooters near campus, e-mails were sent to students informing them of the news. Campus police is also looking into text messaging as a quicker way to keep students informed, but Huerta pointed out that cell phone service crashed after the shooting at NIU.

Pang Yang, a senior graphic design major, said she had concerns about using cell phone technology to inform students.

“That would be faster, better than e-mail, but you have to consider people without a cell phone,” Yang said. “I didn’t used to have one.”

Ultimately, Huerta hopes to prevent an incident from occurring on campus. He said that students should assume some of the responsibility in being aware of suspicious individuals.

“They need to tell us when someone is acting out or is acting oddly,” he said. “We just need to all be aware of the fact that this is our home, this is our community, and we all have a bit of responsibility to make it safe.”

Freshman Cristina Beltran thinks that students should even be aware of the possibility of a shooter being someone they know.

“Maybe if it was your close friend or roommate, then you should tell them to get help,” Beltran said. “I think it’s your responsibility.”

Huerta said that students need to know Fresno State is a safe campus, but he also knows that there is no guarantee an incident will not hit close to home because no campus can be one hundred percent protected.

“We’re seeing it happen regularly and it’s tragic,” Huerta said. “How do you prevent it? I don’t know that you can prevent it. What you can have is a strong response … Educational institutions should never be gated, fortress-like.”

Fresno State President John D. Welty, who grew up in Illinois and had two sisters graduate from NIU, echoed Huerta’s sentiments.

“The sad reality is that no university can provide a hundred percent guarantee of safety and security,” Welty said in a statement released the day after the shooting.

“What we can do – and have done even before the tragedies at Virginia Tech last spring and, now, at NIU – is constantly improve our ability to prevent violence and to respond to emergencies.”

Additional reporting by Kelly Lucus.

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4 Responses to University police is ready to protect

  1. Charles W. Frank says:

    Gotta love an out of control, paranoid society. Anyone could just drive them self nuts enough to shoot up a campus just worrying about that alone!

    The issues of “Prevention” ring bells in my head, along the lines of “Thought Police.”

    In my mind, you can’t do a whole lot (without stepping on toes and rights) until something happens; that is unless you actually see a friend or dorm buddy’s demeanor change drastically in an overtly inward or outwardly hostile sense compared to normal behavior (first signs you need to just say “Hi” and strike-up a conversation to get a feel for the person and what is going on).

    On the flip-side of the paranoia coin, it is still the same coin. You can be paranoid of someone who seems irregular, and end-up making a false report, thus irritating others in the process.

    I’m a bit stand-offish myself. I stand off to the side, watch the ants marching, smoke my cigarettes, and don’t interact a whole lot except for class. I’ve been approached and asked questions by fellow observers, interested. I’ve been approached and asked what my problem is. I’ve been told that my demeanor and they way I carry myself is everything from “hot” to “pompous, arrogant and condescending” to “disturbing & scary.”

    For this behavior of INTJ/INTP personality types which the other 70-85% of society don’t understand, and attempt to press their ESFP values on (which I don’t fully understand), I would be able to rationalize why I was approached by a member of the “Thought Police,” and questioned about my stand-offish natures. Frankly, I’m more of a “leave me alone” person, rather than wanting to let someone in to question me – but at least I try to understand.

    For others … no knowing how they would react, and I would not even venture to guess what’s in someone else’s head for fear of being a fool and having it so wrong as to commit a wrong against someone.

    For Welty’s and Huerta’s last quotes in the article … they’re spot-on compared to the word and implications of “prevention.” True, though, that in our community, each of us has a responsibility to watch-out. Everyone hears it, some fear it, yet sit idly by, no clue of what signs there are … and I reiterate my own stand-offish nature as an observer, of others, my environment, etc… observation is key to prevention … and that’s for internal and external growth with the world.

    Also … stop treating each other so poorly. Make new friends today, tomorrow, the next day. No one should be without. Some of the madness I’ve had at times in my own life comes from lack of contact. That shy or withdrawn person … yeah, touch them or something, talk with them. Makes all the difference in the world, in the end … better to get someone talking or crying about what’s all bottled up rather than shooting at human bottles (which represent the shells of ourselves in an empty and insensitive world … why else would someone commit such horrors unless they saw and felt nothing but this despair of more empty shells around them). Fill the well with tears, fill the bottle with beer, be merry and cheer without fear when you hear another life singing this song long and loud and clear.

    I’m not even drunk and going off on tangents … time for sleep.

    Meh $0.02 for the road.

  2. Charles W. Frank says:

    Gotta love an out of control, paranoid society. Anyone could just drive them self nuts enough to shoot up a campus just worrying about that alone!

    The issues of “Prevention” ring bells in my head, along the lines of “Thought Police.”

    In my mind, you can’t do a whole lot (without stepping on toes and rights) until something happens; that is unless you actually see a friend or dorm buddy’s demeanor change drastically in an overtly inward or outwardly hostile sense compared to normal behavior (first signs you need to just say “Hi” and strike-up a conversation to get a feel for the person and what is going on).

    On the flip-side of the paranoia coin, it is still the same coin. You can be paranoid of someone who seems irregular, and end-up making a false report, thus irritating others in the process.

    I’m a bit stand-offish myself. I stand off to the side, watch the ants marching, smoke my cigarettes, and don’t interact a whole lot except for class. I’ve been approached and asked questions by fellow observers, interested. I’ve been approached and asked what my problem is. I’ve been told that my demeanor and they way I carry myself is everything from “hot” to “pompous, arrogant and condescending” to “disturbing & scary.”

    For this behavior of INTJ/INTP personality types which the other 70-85% of society don’t understand, and attempt to press their ESFP values on (which I don’t fully understand), I would be able to rationalize why I was approached by a member of the “Thought Police,” and questioned about my stand-offish natures. Frankly, I’m more of a “leave me alone” person, rather than wanting to let someone in to question me – but at least I try to understand.

    For others … no knowing how they would react, and I would not even venture to guess what’s in someone else’s head for fear of being a fool and having it so wrong as to commit a wrong against someone.

    For Welty’s and Huerta’s last quotes in the article … they’re spot-on compared to the word and implications of “prevention.” True, though, that in our community, each of us has a responsibility to watch-out. Everyone hears it, some fear it, yet sit idly by, no clue of what signs there are … and I reiterate my own stand-offish nature as an observer, of others, my environment, etc… observation is key to prevention … and that’s for internal and external growth with the world.

    Also … stop treating each other so poorly. Make new friends today, tomorrow, the next day. No one should be without. Some of the madness I’ve had at times in my own life comes from lack of contact. That shy or withdrawn person … yeah, touch them or something, talk with them. Makes all the difference in the world, in the end … better to get someone talking or crying about what’s all bottled up rather than shooting at human bottles (which represent the shells of ourselves in an empty and insensitive world … why else would someone commit such horrors unless they saw and felt nothing but this despair of more empty shells around them). Fill the well with tears, fill the bottle with beer, be merry and cheer without fear when you hear another life singing this song long and loud and clear.

    I’m not even drunk and going off on tangents … time for sleep.

    Meh $0.02 for the road.

  3. Cindy Sheehan says:

    2 or 3 campus officers on duty during a shift. Of the 2 or 3, how many are usually busy writing parking tickets? Ah, NOW I feel safe. If there were only 3 offices on duty at vigrinia tech…if only there were three on duty officers and NIU…all this could have been prevented right? More officers on duty make a safer campus, right? WRONG!!!

    Charlers, turn down the hawethorne heights and get real.

    Why is there no discussion on letting students carry (a weapon) on campus? There’s no harm in that, if a student has a California Concealed Weapons permit (CCW) he/she ought to be able to carry on campus. I dont like the idea of loosing some of my constitutional rights when I step on campus.

    Hey collegian staff writer…might I sugests you take a random sample survey and find out, just for kicks and jollys what students think of that idea. That would be a good indicator of what students think….or if you want a biased politically correct opinion, I could recommend a few lefty professors in the political science department.

    BUSH CRIED FRENCH FRIED…or something

  4. Cindy Sheehan says:

    2 or 3 campus officers on duty during a shift. Of the 2 or 3, how many are usually busy writing parking tickets? Ah, NOW I feel safe. If there were only 3 offices on duty at vigrinia tech…if only there were three on duty officers and NIU…all this could have been prevented right? More officers on duty make a safer campus, right? WRONG!!!

    Charlers, turn down the hawethorne heights and get real.

    Why is there no discussion on letting students carry (a weapon) on campus? There’s no harm in that, if a student has a California Concealed Weapons permit (CCW) he/she ought to be able to carry on campus. I dont like the idea of loosing some of my constitutional rights when I step on campus.

    Hey collegian staff writer…might I sugests you take a random sample survey and find out, just for kicks and jollys what students think of that idea. That would be a good indicator of what students think….or if you want a biased politically correct opinion, I could recommend a few lefty professors in the political science department.

    BUSH CRIED FRENCH FRIED…or something

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