School Shootings: how prepared is DMACC?

Photo illustration by Alex Payne.

Photo illustration by Alex Payne.

By Alex Payne.

 School shootings across the country have kept students and school security officials looking for the best way to prepare faculty, staff and students in case of an emergency.

2012 was one of the deadliest years on school campuses, which left 41 people dead. These types of attacks have left many students asking the question, “Could this happen here at DMACC?”

“We need to be prepared, it can happen to anybody,” Macey Hill, first year Liberal Arts major, 18, of Urbandale said.

Hill believes that students need to be more informed about what to do in an emergency. This is an issue that DMACC Security staff has devoted a lot of time to.

Each school shooting gets the attention of DMACC security officials, according to Director of Campus Safety and Emergency Management Ned Miller.

To create safer campuses, DMACC has increased their Ankeny and Urban Campus Security Force along with their Closed Circuit Television Security Systems. DMACC has also set up a Crisis Management Team.

The DMACC Crisis Management Team has the responsibility of responding to, and summoning the necessary resources, to mitigate, investigate and document any situation that may cause a significant emergency or dangerous situation, according to the annual security report sent out to all DMACC students and staff earlier this month.

DMACC has also set up DMACC Alert, a program designed to inform students when there is a threat on campus. All students are included in DMACC Alert by their DMACC email but only about 60 percent of students and staff have entered their cell phone numbers to receive text message alerts, according to Miller. To keep more students and staff aware of dangers on campus, Miller would encourage everyone to make sure they are signed up for the DMACC Alert text messaging.

Last Friday, January 25th a campus-wide test of the DMACC Alert system was used. If you a text message and/or phone call from DMACC Alert you are encouraged to sign up for the system (See Sidebar).

DMACC Security has stayed up-to-date with local law enforcement, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that they are well-informed with local security issues.

According to Miller, DMACC is a member of the InternationalAssociation of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. Through the IACLEA, DMACC is able to stay up to date with better ways to keep our campus safe. Working with the Iowa Homeland Security DMACC was able to learn about a new, controversial, school safety program called A.L.i.C.E.

A.L.i.C.E. stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. “We don’t do it in that order, we do it in whatever order is appropriate,” Miller said.

Counter is the most controversial part of A.L.i.C.E. because it encourages people to fight back.

Fighting off an armed intruder concerns many students. “I wouldn’t take any chances,” Kiefer Hanawalt, second year Graphic Design major, 21, of Des Moines said. Hanawalt says that attacking an armed gunman when you are unarmed is too dangerous.

Counter is the last resort according to A.L.i.C.E. founder Greg Crane. In this portion of A.L.i.C.E. people who have found themselves unable to escape or hide from the gunman, are encouraged to fight back, distract, subdue the gunman and secure the weapon.

Miller has presented the A.L.i.C.E. program to around half a dozen classes a week and is willing to present in more classes. The importance of the program has led to Miller working on a way to incorporate the presentation in to student orientation.

DMACC has provided every classroom with a red book with campus security information and protocols. To make the information more noticeable and easy to access, Miller has worked to create new posters to hang in all classrooms that will include information on Fire, Tornado, Life-threatening situations and A.L.i.C.E.

Although there has been a rise in school shootings Miller would like to point out that in 2010 there were 6,632 postsecondary institutions and over 21 million postsecondary students and most went home everyday without an active shooter event happening.

“We work everyday to be prepared,” Miller said. And the hard work is evident, according to reports released by U.S. Department of Education. Compared to other similar sized Colleges and Universities in Iowa, DMACC had one of the lowest crime rates from 2009-2011.

DMACC staff also lookout for students and if they see suspicious activity and they will reach out to the concerned.

“We want to be prepared not paranoid, “ Miller said. Miller would like students to just be aware of their surroundings and if they see something or someone acting suspicious report it.

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