The necessity of active shooter safety drills on campus

Oct. 22, a 17-year-old student who attended Ridgway High School in Santa Rosa opened fire on another student. While police said this was an “isolated act of violence,” this incident raises an important conversation — school shootings. 

According to EverytownResearch, California has had five shootings on school grounds in 2019. Three shootings were unintentional and resulted in no injuries, one resulted in an injury and another in a death. 

At SF State there are currently fire and earthquake drills in place. However, there are no drills that involve an active shooter scenario for students. 

Waliun Shiu the Interim Deputy Chief of Police on campus said that “we [UPD] have conducted Active Shooter drills in the past and have regular smaller scale ones with individual offices/units/departments at their request.” 

Though having the departments and faculty properly trained in case of an active shooter on campus is necessary, students also need to be properly trained both physically and mentally for a situation like this. 

UPD held sessions for students during Campus Safety Week on how to deal with an active crisis situation. The problem with this: UPD is expecting students to go and get taught how to deal with an active shooter situation. 

Instead they should implement a mandatory active shooting drill that all of campus has to be a part of, like fire and earthquake drills. 

“Currently we have partnered up with another entity on campus which employs a large student staff and are discussing ongoing training to include a mock scenario,” says Shiu. 

SF State is an open campus which allows anyone, whether they go to the university or not, free reign to walk through campus. Throughout the university there are cameras in place however they are not remotely monitored by UPD. Instead, the security cameras are independently operated by the building or department which funded their installation. 

We, as a student body, have to rely on the collective efforts of our departments on campus to look after security cameras and determine whether there is a potential threat on campus. 

Not to belittle any department on campus and question their alertness to the monitoring systems they have in place but unless there are specialized people watching over the monitors daily, we might as well have no cameras at all.

Yes, the cameras will be able to help identify the person behind any shooting.  However without constant monitoring, it will take too much time for someone to look over the footage, identify a shooter on campus and notify the other departments and buildings about said threat. 

On the UPD website there is a section about Active Threats, which includes PDFs and videos (in both English and Spanish) about what to in case active shootings. The fact that UPD is actively trying to create a mock active shooting scenario for the student body is an improvement, but also the bare minimum. 

Having yearly or even every semester drills that are mandatory for all students to attend should be implemented.