Over the past month, gun control has been a heated topic of debate in the United States with shootings at a movie theater in Colorado and a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. The recent shooting at Texas A&M University, coupled with the Aug. 3 incident in which a Drexel Police officer shot a confrontational man, has made us wonder if Drexel has enough of a plan should someone open fire on our campus.
Texas A&M used “Code Maroon” to lock down the campus when officials learned about the gunman. Code Maroon not only sends SMS and email alerts, but it also uses radio, campus cable television, Emergency Alert System radios, computer alerts, classroom alerts, Twitter and RSS to get the message across. Texas A&M is located in a college town and has this extensive alert system. Drexel is located in Philadelphia, a city with among the highest violent crime rates in the nation, and only sends alerts through SMS, email and Drexel-owned landlines. Is Drexel doing enough to alert us should we find ourselves in a Texas A&M situation?
All Drexel Police officers are active-shooter trained. This means that if someone opens fire on Drexel’s campus, our police force would know what to do. The Philadelphia Police force and the University of Pennsylvania Police force are also active-shooter trained and in constant communication with Drexel Police. This is comforting to know, but it’s also comforting to know that if there’s ever a shooter on campus, you’ll receive immediate notification of the shooting location.
A DrexelALERT wasn’t sent out for the Aug. 3 incident because the suspect was apprehended immediately and didn’t pose an ongoing threat to the community. It makes sense that not everyone might want to be notified of a violent crime incident that doesn’t pose an ongoing threat, but many of us would nonetheless feel safer if we can opt into notifications of such incidents. Even if the police have everything under control, people might still want to avoid the crime scene, particularly if any blood or other potentially disturbing sights are visible.
Most importantly, we must remember that police training and effective emergency notifications are not the only elements of effective preparation for a campus shooting. All members of the campus community must also be prepared to take appropriate action in the event of a shooting. Drexel does not currently conduct lockdown drills or active shooter drills, so many of us are likely unprepared and might take unsafe action if panic ensues. Just because we’re not in high school anymore doesn’t mean it’s safe to assume we will all react appropriately in an emergency situation. We believe the University should begin to conduct quarterly active shooter drills that involve the participation of all students, faculty and staff on all campuses. This, along with an expansion of the DrexelALERT system to ensure that the entire campus can go into lockdown at a moment’s notice, should have been implemented here immediately after Virginia Tech, not five years later.