University staff trained to deal with active-shooter incident

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A Shepherd University police cruiser parked outside of the former police station, which is now located in Moler Hall.

(THE PICKET) – Students and families continue to mourn the loss of 10 lives after a mass shooting on the campus of Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon on Thursday, Oct. 1. Details of the incident continue to emerge about the shooting, the shooter, and personal encounters from the scene. Shepherd University officials say their officers and staff are trained to deal with a similar active shooter scenario.

“The university distributes an annual emergency response flier to all employees that outlines emergency protocols and lists appropriate managers and executive-level supervisor contact information,” said Valerie Owens, executive director of Shepherd University communications.

Shepherd University Police Chief John McVoy was not available for comment.

Owens said the number of officers varies depending on the day of the week and campus activities, events, and schedules.

“(Shepherd University Police Department) trains twice annually with local departments in responding to active shooter events,” Owens said. “…the most recent held in August.”

University police officers do on-site training periodically in residence halls and other buildings to address personal safety practices, Owens said.

“Shepherd has made a major investment in new interior door hardware for almost all classrooms and labs, which allow doors to be locked from the inside, and access would be restricted to police officers,” Owens said.

Shepherd has two instructors on staff who train (the police department) and agencies throughout West Virginia in the accepted best practice of dynamic and rapid response, according to Owens.

“All police officers at Shepherd University are certified by the State of West Virginia and meet the West Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards,” Owens said. “This is a minimum of twice a year.”

The mass shooting in Oregon on Thursday, brought the total number of mass shooting deaths or injuries in 2015 in the U.S. to 294, according to The Mass Shooting Tracker.

The Mass Shooting Tracker counts the number of people shot rather than the number of people killed because “shooting” means “people shot,” according to their website.

An older FBI definition of mass murder is where four or more people are murdered in one event. The tracker tallies events where four or more people are shot in one single event.

The four may include the gunman himself, because they are often shot by police officers or use a gun to kill themselves.

“The new, generally accepted definition of spree murder is two or more murders committed by an offender or offenders, without a cooling-off period,” according to the FBI.

“Prevention of such incidents continues to be a profound and difficult debate in American society,” Owens said. “One component of prevention that is not usually controversial is that any student, employee, or visitor who sees or hears anything that suggests a threat of harm to persons or property should report it to the police promptly.”

The Mass Shooting tracker can be found at www.shootingtracker.com.

Todd Bowman is a staff writer for The Picket. He can be reached by email at tbowma04@rams.shepherd.edu or on Twitter @todd_bowman87.