USU Police offer training for attacks in the workplace
Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 12:02
Sgt. Travis Dunn of the USU Campus Police Department sat at the head of the classroom on the third floor of the Taggart Student Center. He played a video on the room’s projector screen for the members of the Academic Resources Center who were attending one of the officer’s workplace violence/active shooter presentations.
The video Dunn showed was of a workplace hostage situation at a meeting of a Florida school board in 2010. Clay Duke, upset about his wife’s termination from an elementary school, held six members of the school board at gunpoint. Duke opened fire at the district superintendent at point-blank range and was then shot at by a security guard. Duke was wounded and fell to the ground where he killed himself with a shot to the head from his own gun.
No member of the school board was injured: Duke’s first shot hit a stack of papers on the desk in front of him, missing the superintendent. Should an event like this happen in an office on the USU campus, Dunn said to be ready to move at a moment’s notice.
“What we’re trying to do is to teach, to train, to have the mindset so people can take care of this themselves, to get themselves out of the line of danger,” Dunn said.
USU’s Department of Public Safety offers workplace violence/active shooter training to groups and offices at the university. The 30 to 60-minute presentation teaches attendees what to look for and how to react to hostile or violent situations in a work area, according to the DPS’s website.
Dunn said the DPS has been holding the training seminars since he started working for the campus police more than four years ago.
“With the recent incidents throughout the country, there’s been a need or a want for this presentation,” Dunn said. “We’re getting a lot more requests this year for this particular type of presentation.”
After Dunn played the video of the Florida school board shooting, he showed another video called “Shots Fired: Guidance for Surviving an Active Shooter Situation” from the Center for Personal Protection and Safety.
The video presented a situation where a former employee enters a workplace with a gun. It explains what to do based on the shape and size of the office and how easily an exit can be reached.
The video taught lessons such as analyzing a work environment to decide the best course of action, not assuming another person is calling 911 and how to react when police arrive on scene.
Dunn said if the people in attendance were to take anything away from the presentation, it would be the “three outs:” get out, hide out and take out.
Get out means to exit the building as quickly as possible if it can be done safely, Dunn said. This should be done only if a person is out of the line of sight of the shooter.
If getting out is not an option, the next best thing to do is hide out in a room with a door and blockade the entrance while staying out of any potential line of sight for the shooter.
The take out option means to attempt to subdue the shooter, but only if possible.
“My first reaction would be hide out,” said Debi Jensen, learning specialist and instructor for the Academic Resources Center who was in attendance at the presentation. “I think if we heard the shots, they would be so close that we wouldn’t have time to get out, so we would have to hide out or we’d have to take out.”
Dunn gave advice on how to handle a take out situation. He said using thick textbooks or electronics as shields gives better protection against bullets than nothing at all. He also suggested improvising weapons from objects around a hideout location.
“You have to have a him or me mindset,” Dunn said.
Jensen said she was glad she went to the presentation.
“I think it’s important,” she said. “I think it’s really important to be prepared and to even have some practice and some drills, just like fire drills. Hopefully we’ll never have a fire but we have fire drills, so maybe we should have some drills about this. It freaks you out, but maybe it’s important to do.”
Workplace violence/active shooter presentations can be scheduled for a group by contacting the USU Police Department.