KATIE GOODRICH | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF | firstname.lastname@example.org
Yesterday at Ohio State University, a student attacked people with his car and a knife.
Ohio State’s campus police department reacted quickly both in person and on social media. Officer Alan Horujko shot and killed the attacker. The emergency warnings and tweets sent out to campus used “active shooter” or “gunman,” but the attack took place with a knife.
Butler police chief John Conley pays attention to attacks on campuses to learn from them and better prepare themselves to protect Butler and its students.
“It can happen here,” he said. “Let’s hope it doesn’t.”
Plan for the worst and hope for the best is the chief’s motto.
“If I don’t do that, then I would be negligent to this campus community,” Conley said. “Our main priority is our students. My job is to make sure that when I go home at night that every student on this campus is safe. That is the objective of everyone in this uniform.”
During the attack at Ohio State, the office of emergency management tweeted to “Run Hide Fight.” The Butler University Police Department also prescribes to this method, and also has their own plan in place.
“It’s a basic, three-step approach,” Conley said. “I would like to say common sense approach, but in a situation like that, there is a lot of tension and stress and thought isn’t always that easy.”
Buckeye Alert: Active Shooter on campus. Run Hide Fight. Watts Hall. 19th and College.
— OSU Emergency Mngmnt (@OSU_EMFP) November 28, 2016
The Houston Police Department originated the Run, Hide, Fight technique, which provides a three step response to an active shooter situation.
First, you should escape if you can. If not, then you should hide in a room or tucked away place and barricade yourself in. As a last resort, you can fight the shooter.
Inspired by a video created by Ohio State about the method, BUPD teamed up with Butler communication students to produce a video unique to campus.
“It takes just a few short minutes to see it, but it allows people to think and process what to do in a situation if it happens,” Conley said. “Hopefully, you never get to the last step, but if you have to fight, you can and you can survive.”
The video depicts an active shooter situation in the Holcomb Building. The narration walks viewers through what will happen step by step, from receiving the Dawg Alert notification to how to respond.
Running is the top priority, but it might not always be an option if the shooter is near you. Then the second step of hiding comes into play, and students and staff can barricade themselves in a safe location with all the lights off and cell phones silenced.
“I saw pictures online of OSU students piling up desks in front of classroom doors,” Conley said. “Our video shows the same thing, and it really can work in this kind of situation.”
The video stresses fighting is a last resort, but an individual can use forcible means to protect themselves from the shooter.
Students, faculty and staff used this three-step method during the attack to protect themselves, which could be seen on social media sites like Snapchat and Twitter.
After hearing about the OSU attack and knowing campus would soon find out via social media, Conley sent officers to all the academic buildings on campus for extra security in case it was part of a serial attack. Some of the officers were even in training at the time.
“It was something that went unnoticed by most people,” the chief said. “But we were out there for everyone to make sure there were no copy cats or just if people had questions.”
Senior Erin O’Neil found out on Facebook when she opened notifications of her friends checking themselves in safe.
She grew up and attended high school in Columbus, Ohio, so many of her friends attend OSU.
“I immediately texted my best friend,” O’Neil said. “Then I was confused about all the different stories going around. I initially thought the attacker had a gun.”
Emma Edick, another senior from Columbus, heard from her mom who sent a text saying a man with a machete was on campus.
“I didn’t believe it was possible because I have friends who live a block away,” she said. “My favorite doughnut shop is right there. That’s where I go to concerts, so I was stunned.”
Both women agree they feel safe on Butler’s campus and appreciate the measures taken by BUPD, but that preparing for worst case scenarios can bring out the worst in people.
“It can be cynical,” Edick said. “We have to be able to go outside after things like this happen.”
However, BUPD’s trainings are required by law to remain certified police officers. In August, the officers used the vacant Schwitzer Hall to run an active shooter training.
“Gov. [John] Kasich talked about training and how it worked at Ohio State which comforted me,” Edick said. “But it is hard to find comfort in a situation that doesn’t seem like reality.”
O’Neil said BUPD’s video was helpful, but she does not think it is enough.
“I don’t feel prepared to deal with it because I am in denial that it could happen in our Butler Bubble,” she said. “I wouldn’t mind a lockdown drill and actually going through the steps.”
Conley said the most important thing for students to know about an attack situation is to cooperate with the officers.
“If an incident like this happens, know that the responding police officers don’t know the good guy or the bad guy when they get there,” Conley said. “We have to separate that out very quickly to save lives. We have to be emphatic, direct and to the point when we arrive, and we need all the cooperation in the world immediately to accomplish protecting life on campus.”
BUPD can present to groups that want additional training for active shooter situations and regularly show the active shooter video to new hires.