Campus protectors rather be safe than sorry

Claire Fodell

According to a study by the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training program, there were
84 Active Shooter Events (ASEs) in the U.S. between 2000 and 2010. The number of ASEs each year
has rapidly increased from only one in the year 2000 to 21 a decade later.

In all of Grand Valley State University’s 53 years, there has never been an active shooter situation. Yet,
with the number of ASEs increasing, it is important for students, faculty and staff members to know
what to do in case a situation occurs, said Capt. Brandon DeHaan of the Grand Valley Police

GVPD works to make sure that its staff is prepared in the event of an active shooter on campus. Twice
a year, DeHaan’s team runs simulation drills on campus in both residential and classroom buildings.

“We do this so our staff is comfortable with the nuances of a situation,” DeHaan said.

He added that it is necessary for the drills to be performed on campus so that the staff is familiar with
all of the different buildings.

“We also invite Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department to practice,” DeHaan said. “They are the closest to
respond if an event were to occur on campus.”

Along with training for GVPD staff and OCSD, DeHaan said he and his team have worked hard to make
sure all students and staff members at GVSU are also prepared.

The GVPD website features numerous emergency plans for various situations, including an active
shooter. The website includes information prepared by DeHaan and his staff, as well as information
from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.

GVPD will also host active shooter emergency plan seminars upon request from students, faculty and
staff members. The seminars will help attendees to make plans ahead of time so that they know how
to act in the event of an emergency.

“We are encouraging our students to plan ahead,” DeHaan said, advising students to “identify a plan of
action before a bad thing happens.”

If a plan isn’t established beforehand, most people won’t know exactly what to do in the event of an
emergency and will just freeze. DeHaan believes that those who make plans beforehand are more
likely to “respond than react.”

Although it is important to have plans and training instilled at school, it is advisable to have a plan in
any public location. According to the study mentioned earlier, the most common place for ASEs to
occur is in the workplace, with 37 percent of the 84 incidents between 2000 and 2010 occurring at
work. DeHaan hopes that if students can take tips to be prepared at school, they will also be prepared
in other places.

GVPD’s online material advises students to first try to evacuate the building using a previously-
created evacuation plan. If evacuation is not possible, hiding in an area that is both out of the
shooter’s view and blocked from their entry is the next step. Finally, if evacuating the area and hiding
are not possible, taking action against the shooter is advised, but only as a last resort.

In such a situation, a person would have to go up against the shooter with any object that could be
used as a weapon. Although most classrooms and offices will have something that can be used to take
out an active shooter, some students believe that it would be better to have the ability to fight fire
with fire.

Forrest Linderman is the president of the student organization Students for Concealed Carry on
Campus. The group actively fights for students with a concealed weapons license to be able to bring a
weapon on campus for their own safety and the safety of their fellow Lakers.

According to article 215 of the GVSU Student Code, firearms are not allowed on any university
property or in university housing. This isn’t just the case at GVSU: in total, 48 states don’t allow
concealed weapons on university campuses. Linderman believes that allowing concealed weapons on
campus could lower the chances of an active shooter.

“Two places so far allow firearms on campus, Colorado and Utah,” Linderman said. “And there have
been no incidences of anyone having to use them.”

In the event of an active shooter on campus, if the concealed weapons rule was changed, Linderman
and others with licenses would try to protect the university.

“I’d legally be allowed to protect myself and those around me,” Linderman said.

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