University’s plan for armed intruders


Alex PalmieriNews Writer

Evacuate, hide and take action are the three steps to take if there is a shooter on campus, Deputy Chief Phillip J. Pessina said.

“The first step is to evacuate,” said Pessina. “You want to get out of the area. You want self-preservation. That’s why we ask to evacuate first.”

With the Ohio State University shooting just a few weeks ago, it can have plenty of people thinking about safety at schools. Pessina said vigilance and awareness goes beyond the shooting at Ohio State. He said all students and faculty should always be mindful of their surroundings in case a shooting or a serious situation occurs at Southern.

“Be familiar with your surroundings,” said Pessina. “Be aware with what you may need to be safe. I don’t want people to be fearful; I want them to think safe all the time and know their surroundings.”

Shelter in place is another step of action to take if people cannot evacuate. Pessina said this is when everybody takes immediate action and all lights and cell phones get shut off. Everybody must remain quiet and stay secure for further information.

“Our main focus is to neutralize the threat,” said Pessina. “We will try our best to take the target out.”

Communication ties into all of the steps that need to be taken, and Pessina said it is key in any drill or serious situation. With a situation as serious as a gunman on campus, Pessina said with all of the new and improved technology, it makes things a lot easier. The communication aspect is major for everyone on campus to understand the situation completely, especially with the Southern updates to keep everyone informed.

“Once we evaluate what happens,” said Pessina, “the university homepage will set up a notification. It’s all about communication. There will be updates on campus, emails, the website, etc.”

When the officers get into the building, Pessina said the officers will neutralize the victim immediately. They will then call the EMT’s to get the victims to safety. There are a lot of steps to take with a major situation such as this. Pessina said the police always attempt to be as prepared as they can be in case something like a campus shooting happens.

“The fact of the matter is: We are prepared, but never prepared. You never know what is going to happen. This is why we do the training we do. We have done numerous, numerous trainings over the years.”

Pessina said he has been a part of the Southern Police for ten years. He said Southern has a robust student center and it is good. Pessina added that he hopes everyone knows what to expect if something like this happens because it is also on the Southern website.

“We’re going to do our best to keep the university safe,” said Pessina. “But we need partnership. The university, faculty and staff are a part of the process of keeping the university safe. It takes a whole family to keep us all safe. We’re all a family.”

Photo Credit: Alex Palmieri – News Writer

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