By Michelle Gideon
The recent school shooting in Omaha, Nebraska that resulted in three deaths was a reminder of the past shootings at Virginia Tech and many other colleges.
RCC’s Emergency Response Plan (ERP) offers very little information, but gives a short 5-step list of “what to do” in the event of an active shooter/hostage situation. Eric Gomez, a safety and security officer at the RWC campus, acknowledged that the current plan is rather quaint, but he noted that there is currently a plan in the works to re-invent the policy. Gomez could not advise on the exact developments on the discussion table, but was optimistic that students at RCC would see a very positive change in the near future. He did say that there is an active shooter training pamphlet that was acquired through the Department of Homeland Security website that was added to the Emergency Preparedness Plan in August of last year.
Margaret Bradford, director of marketing and Community Relations for RCC, also referred to the Homeland Security Active Shooter pamphlet. She said that a meeting before the school board was scheduled this month and the meeting was specifically geared towards this topic. The discussion would cover the idea of mirroring the federal regulations.
Another area where RCC is striving to improve in the area of student safety is the ability to notify students via text messaging and email should a threatening situation arise. Grant Lagorio, facilities coordinator for RCC, said that a significant overhaul of the current system was in the works. He advised that a mass email and text notification system is in its final
testing stages and should be finished soon. This would be an improvement to the current system which only consists of mass email that is used to generate important scholastic information, and offers no texting notifications.
The current policy in effect at RCC is a stark contrast to plans that are in place at other higher ed institutions such as Oregon State University.
Jack Rogers, director of public safety at OSU, said that he has designed an Active Shooter/Hostage situation plan that is currently viewable to the public on the college website.
In addition to the useful information listed on the website, Rogers said that students, faculty and staff can all create a user account in which they list six phone numbers and two email addresses that would be utilized in an Active Shooter/Hostage situation. Rogers gave his blessing on “copying” any or all of the information on the aforementioned website if it would
aid in student safety.
Rogers said that the current notification system in place at OSU hosts 45,000 accounts and is of zero cost to the students. The reason for implementing this thorough plan was to potentially decrease the number of persons that would be exposed to harmful situations. “Fewer students would be on or near the college campus if they received notification that forewarned them of danger,” Rogers said.
RCC staff is working towards improving the safety procedures that are designed to keep students safe.