Campus shootings can happen anywhere, including at Cedarville, Campus Safety says.
“You can’t have the ostrich mentality, and say, ‘Aww, that’s probably not going to happen here,’” says Douglas Chisholm, Cedarville’s director of Campus Safety. “No, in this village here and at the university, we take it seriously.”
And at least one shooting has happened at a Christian college. Less than a month ago, seven people died after a shooting at Oikos University in Oakland, Calif. Former student One Goh was arrested by police at a supermar- ket about an hour after the April 2 incident.
The shooting at Oikos, a small Christian college with a high Korean population, was the deadliest campus shooting since the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech that killed 32 people. Oikos canceled classes until April 23.
Chisholm says the shooting at Oikos shows shootings are possible anywhere.
“I’m telling you, it can happen anywhere, anywhere,” Chisholm says. “And that’s why we take it seriously and have done a lot of re- sponse planning on this thing because no one’s exempt.”
That response planning includes a four page PDF available on Campus Safety’s web- site. Campus Safety does not publish its full plan for security issues, Chisholm said.
Though a plan is in place if a shooting were to happen at Cedarville, Chisholm said there is an intervention team combining Campus Safety, student services and sometimes the Cedarville police department that deals with issues with students or staff before they lead to violence.
A possible issue could be someone making a statement that could be considered threatening.
“That’s not something you just let sitthere,” Chisholm says. “You get on it right away, and you have an intervention.”
Chris Gillaugh, chief of the Cedarville Police Department, says one example of this type of situation is when a student threatened to
hack into his professor’s computer and melt it down because he received a bad grade.
“Basically we ended up finding out that the information was accurate and took action against the student,” Gillaugh says.
Other universities have similar intervention teams. Virginia Tech’s threat assessment team, created in 2007 after the shooting, meets weekly, according to an article in The Roanoke Times. The team looks at up to 350 cases annually, over half of which are resolved in a few months.
Virginia Tech’s admissions department is also involved in threat assessment at the university. They evaluate up to 23,000 applications annually by comparing them with sex offender registries and looking for potential problems. Some information, such as involve- ment with theft, drugs, firearms and assault, halts the application progress, and only the director of admissions can start it again, The Roanoke Times reports.
Chisholm is on a committee reevaluating Cedarville’s admissions application. The committee is looking at questions about whether applicants have ever been convicted of felonies or been disciplined in high school or at another college.
“The option to do a background check if you see red flags is being discussed,” Chisholm says.
If Cedarville’s intervention team does not prevent a shooting, Chisholm says Cam- pus Safety would notify the campus via email, phone and text message using their mass noti- fication system.
“Our system generally sends a message out within 2-3 minutes,” Chisholm says. “It goes out to everyone that signed up, and of course, even those that don’t sign up, they’re with people that hear about it.”
Immediately after there is a report that someone on campus has a firearm, the Cedarville police department, the county sheriff’s department and other teams head to Cedarville, Chisholm said.
He said the campus would go into lock- down. This means everyone would be told tobarricade themselves in a room and stay there until told otherwise. Both interior and exterior doors of buildings would be locked.
According to the lockdown protocol docu- ment on Campus Safety’s website, law enforce- ment is responsible for locating, containing and stopping the shooter. Campus Safety is responsible for communicating with law en- forcement, notifying the campus, helping to establish a command center and barricading campus entrances.
Gillaugh says law enforcement did not al- ways go into the building where shooters were located and try to stop them. According to the Denver Post, law enforcement’s goal at the 1999 Columbine High School shooting was to contain the shooters.
Gillaugh says this has changed, with law enforcement now focusing on stopping the threat. He says the first officer at a shooting at Cedarville would try to draw the shooter to him.
“We’re not going in to try to shake hands and be good guys,” Gillaugh says. “Because obviously already they’ve probably shot some people, and we’re going in to get rid of the problem.”
Gillaugh says statistics show that once law enforcement arrives, the shooter will either take their own life or surrender.
Chisholm says Campus Safety is tentative- ly looking to hold a mock shooting drill in the fall, where Campus Safety, the Cedarville Po- lice Department and other departments would respond as if there were a shooter on campus. The drill is in the planning and approval stag- es.
Chisholm said the whole county would be involved if a shooting were to happen at Cedar- ville and that he wants the whole county to be involved in the drill.
“You can have your own little campus drill, and I’m not saying that that’s bad, but I think the more agencies you can involve, the more realistic it’s going to be,” Chisholm said. “Because you’re not going to do this alone. This campus would be swarming, just swarming with people.”