How is Fresno preparing for gun incidents on campus?

Fresno State Police Department lines up its vehicles in the back of campus. (Blake Wolf/The Collegian)

There have been more than 430 mass shootings in the country this year. Twenty-seven of those shootings took place on a school campus, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

Most recently, a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24 left 19 children and two adults dead, one of the deadliest shootings to have taken place on a school campus.

Fresno State has previously faced threats of gun violence. On Nov. 2, 2015, a Fresno State football player was arrested for writing a threatening Yik Yak post that involved a weapon. 

According to Amy Luna, manager of emergency operations at Fresno State – who has worked for the Fresno State Police Department for 18 years – there have been no threats involving a weapon since the 2015 Yik Yak incident.

In 2013, Fresno State PD partnered with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department to go over a program called Seconds 2 Survive, which is a program taught on campus as well as in K-12 schools across the county, to “have a unified message from law enforcement for the county,” according to Luna.

“We share this presentation with other law enforcement agencies as a tool to train their communities. We shared it across the state and across the nation,” Luna said. “We work to ensure that the information stays current and that we are still giving the best message that we can to prepare the community to be able to respond to any kind of emergency but specifically an active incident.”

Seconds 2 Survive is offered once a month on campus to students and faculty. During the program Luna teaches students how to handle an active shooter scenario, instructing students to “Run, Hide and Fight,” in that order.

According to an active incident report in March done by the FBI, the “Run, Hide, Fight” approach is still the best tool to teach. 

“When it comes to ‘Run, Hide and Fight,’ you have to think in advance how you would do that,” Luna said. “We can’t just tell the community to run, hide, fight. We have to go into what that means.”

During the training Luna dives deep into each part of the “Run, Hide and Fight” to better equip students and faculty.

Luna emphasized that when it comes to crises that involve students, staff or faculty with disabilities, leadership is crucial.

“Some of it is extremely personal when it comes to helping students with disabilities, and that is very much incorporated in what I teach in Seconds to Survive,” she said.

Luna also highlighted the need for students to report anything suspicious they see either online or in person, regardless of how big or small it might seem.

“We really try to make sure our campus community understands that if you see something, you say something,” Luna said. “That’s really the key to keeping our campus community safe.”

Building trust is also an important factor when it comes to students feeling confident that the Fresno State PD will act, and act quickly, in the case of an active shooter, according to Luna.

“We are doing everything we can to prepare. I know our officers and our department work to do our best to be prepared to respond to an incident that no one wants to face,” she said. “The responsibility that our department carries is heavy on our shoulders. We understand what that responsibility is to our community. When the world falls apart, we are going to be there.”

Fresno State PD is estimated to respond to an active shooter situation within between 50 and 59 seconds, Luna said.

The most immediate way for students to be informed about any active shooter information on campus is through Bulldog Alert, which is the school’s emergency text alert system.

Luna encouraged students to make sure they have an updated phone number in their student portal and to save the Bulldog Alert number, 53291, in their contacts in order to not dismiss it if an alert is sent. 

“It’s a bit scary, thinking about it… But I feel like Fresno State has the right equipment and personnel to deal with [gun violence on campus],” said Lushain Ekamayake, a second-year Fresno State student, majoring in business. 

He said with the emergency telephones placed around campus that he has never felt unsafe when walking late on campus. 

Ekamayake also noted he’s had a good relationship with Fresno State PD, so he trusts it with security on campus.

“I’m just overall happy with [Fresno State PD], how Fresno State is doing security-wise and all that,” he said.

Emergency telephones are located in various locations throughout campus. (Blake Wolf/The Collegian)

Sneha Kumar, an engineering student in her second year at Fresno State, said she lives alone in Fresno because her family is from Stockton. Since she’s on her own, Kumar said she keeps her time on campus to a minimum and heads home right after class because she doesn’t feel safe on campus.

“I believe these resources [emergency buttons and Fresno State PD] are great… But how quick are they really going to be?” she said. “From a girl’s perspective, I feel like it’s really scary to be out here alone.”

Despite her fears, Kumar said she has some trust that Fresno State PD is prepared for gun violence on campus, in light of recent mass shootings happening throughout the country. However, she is still cautious with her safety on campus and doesn’t “trust 100%” until she sees more effort being done, Kumar said.

Other tools that are available on campus to alert students in case of emergencies are speakers mounted to the exterior campus buildings, social media and campus email. New crash bars inside buildings now have the ability to lock from the inside, which Luna said is important in implementing the “hide” part of “Run, Hide, Fight.”

Students who may be feeling anxious or concerned about their safety on campus are encouraged to take Seconds to Survive, to ensure that they are receiving emergency text alerts, and to utilize counseling services at the health center if needed, Luna said.

“At the end of the day when it comes to any type of emergency, you’re going to be in a better position to make decisions if you already have made an assessment of your environment and know what a plan is,” Luna said. 

For more information on Seconds to Survive or campus safety, students can reach out to Luna via email at amyluna@csufresno.edu.

For emergencies on campus students can contact Fresno State PD at (559) 278-8400, which Luna recommended students save in their phone contact list. Individuals on campus can also call 911 from a campus phone during emergencies.

Correction: Sept. 14, 2022

In a previous version of this article, Sneha Kumar’s name was incorrectly spelled.

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