Campus Safety: Learning About Preparedness

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By Staff Reports

(DGIwire) – On April 16, 2017, Virginia Tech marked a grim anniversary: 10 years since the mass shooting in which 32 people were killed and 17 wounded by gunfire. The largest incident of its kind on a college campus, it not only changed lives; it changed security requirements and shifted the national perspective that institutions of higher learning are generally not thought of as places for extreme violence. These perceived soft targets have had to transition to a hard target mindset to best protect their customers—in this case, professors, employees, students and their families—before, during and after such tragedies. Foundational principles—including an enhanced situational awareness of both familiar and unfamiliar surroundings and the confidence to know how to react, and report should something anomalous occur—are primary lessons to be learned, practiced and reinforced regularly.

Many campuses now arm their police departments, according to the Urban Institute and the U.S. Department of Justice, with some states now allowing college employees and even students to carry concealed weapons. Protocols must follow to reduce the potential for misidentification by law enforcement responding to active shooter calls. Use of force by a civilian should be the last choice when all other efforts have been exhausted, first and foremost escaping from the scene and/or concealing oneself from the aggressor. Virginia Tech also led the way to improving campus safety, according to the Collegiate Times, as evidenced by integrated communication following the on-campus shooting of a police officer in December 2011. The instant and redundant alerting functions notified all personnel of an emergent issue while simultaneously notifying the first responder community. Many universities have followed suit with apps that students can opt into that tie into campus security and/or trusted networks. There are a variety of these capabilities, and with the rapid pace of technology, others will continue to evolve. It is critical that students do opt in for an added level of security and protection.

“Even the most integrated security plans cannot stop all threats to a campus,” says Dr. Kathleen Kiernan, CEO of Kiernan Group Holdings (KGH), a global consulting firm that specializes in developing and disseminating strategies to understand and mitigate active threats and how organizations can best recover from them after they occur. “Academia—along with other organizations—must also plan for response and recovery.” The return to operations, while it may never be considered normal following a major incident, varies by institution. There are complexities involved, including long-term healing, interrupted academic progress, restoration of confidence and living memorials, to name just a few.

KGH has innovated once such approach, the Preparedness Without Paranoia™ concept, which is predicated on the fact that understanding the modern threat environment does not have to be an intimidating or overwhelming task. From small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, the resiliency of any organization in a threatening situation depends on the extent to which its employees are prepared, confident and capable of reacting appropriately and effectively. In this way, Preparedness Without Paranoia™ seeks to foster and develop an educated and engaged citizenry through teaching heightened situational awareness and increasing each individual’s security efficacy. More specifically, Preparedness Without Paranoia™ emphasizes the importance of understanding today’s threat environment, recognizing telltale signs of an evolving threat, and empowering people to take effective action.

KGH has innovated an end-to-end approach to problem solving centered on the rapid transformation of data and information into knowledge and foreknowledge. KGH’s approach focuses on a fusion of talent, technologies and tradecraft to deliver the timely and precise insight required for operational advantage or strategic planning. KGH also provides technical, analytical and leadership training for organizations seeking to enhance performance and gain advantages by rapidly and precisely solving problems, preventing surprise and making decisions.

“No one should have to fear for their safety when engaged in working or learning on a college campus, and having a solid strategy in place to deal with active threats, dynamic in design to evolve with emergent or hybrid-type threats, is a vital component in accomplishing this goal. Security sense makes common sense,” Dr. Kiernan adds.

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