Students staying informed helps police respond
August Pelliccio – News Writer
Chief of Southern Police, Joseph Dooley said that every crime has two primary elements: a desire and an opportunity.
After the Feb. 14 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, Dooley sent, for the second time this semester, a note to all students containing three practical steps in the case of a hostile intruder.
“We kept this simple,” said Dooley. “There are many institutions that have multiple levels, but we kept it to three simple techniques.”
Dooley explained the three techniques: evacuate, hide out and take action.
“Every situations different,” said Dooley. “There are too many variables to nail it down.”
Still, he said, evacuating or hiding out are generally the best early choices.
“Classes have been retrofitted, and most offices are,” said Dooley, “where you can push a button and lock the door.”
Dooley said that nationwide most situations are responded to in between three and seven minutes. In the meantime, he said students should turn off the lights and stay away from the windows, silence their cellphones and be as quiet as possible.
Sophomore Jamil Harp said he agrees with the three steps in theory, but without frequent reminder, he said students could forget.
“I think in the moment, a lot of times, you forget the awareness and you forget the preparation you’re supposed to have,” said Harp. “You act on instinct.”
Tau Kappa Epsilon brother Bryce Gentino shared a similar concern.
“I feel like as it happens, it may be hard to go through these three steps consciously,” said Gentino. “I feel like most people will go into a panic.”
Dooley said students should be reassured that if there interception for a situation in place, the police are already involved and doing what they are trained to.
“The panic and the pandemonium that it can cause can be severe,” Dooley said. “We get that.”
Even during a pressing situation, Dooley said students should remain calm, and be patient as interception runs its course.
Sophomore Mariah Villanova said she would remain calm in the presence of a hostile intruder, and consider what she needed to do in order to stay safe.
“Once you panic,” said Villanova, “You start doing dumb things.”
Dooley said the most important aspect in regard to these situations is preparation. He said recognizing the warning signs is helpful.
“The fact that the community feels comfortable to call us and get involved,” said Dooley, “is important.”
He said this campus is unique in its exposure to the surrounding communities.
“We’re not an institution that sits on a hill, with one way in and one way out,” said Dooley. “We have major traffic arteries that come through this campus.”
Because of this, Dooley said reporting unusual behavior is especially important to keep the Southern community safe.
Dooley said he appreciates calls into the station even for activity that may seem trivial to some students. He said each piece of the puzzle that gets reported for a crime is helpful to his force. According to Dooley, each crime is composed of a desire and an opportunity.
“The only thing we can take away,” said Dooley, “is the opportunity.”
Photo Credit: August Pelliccio