Campus Security Talks Shootings and Lock-Downs but Misses Important Key

Last year Café Racer shooter, Ian Stawiki, stopped through South Seattle Community College after his U-District rampage raising concern among faculty on the school’s lack of preparedness after it failed to initiate a campus-wide lock-down despite local schools and the campus daycare being in lock-down. Wednesday evening Seattle Central Security Director Elman McClain addressed some of those concerns with a video and fielded questions on what to do if such a situation made its way to Seattle Central.

The district has taken steps to increase student safety by implementing four emergency call booths at South Seattle with plans to install the booths at Seattle Central. SCCC is currently negotiating prices with vendors and hopes to have a usable bid by the end of February. Our campus recently switched security over to a 24/7 schedule which McClain says generally has “three security guards” patrolling the campus at any given time.  And that’s not the only place where security is beefing up.

The school plans to install CCTV’s on campus but McClain is careful to note that they will not be monitored by anyone on campus preempting privacy concerns that may arise. No dollar figure has been attached to this technology but McClain did reveal the school has some nifty gadgets up its sleeve.

“In my mind, we will never push that button,” says McClain of a button which can lock down the entire school. The security tech can also lock down individual segments of the school but McClain is concerned about using the button and sealing a gunman in a school with students. The school which can lock down at any time is also missing an important key.

There are currently no “specific” security procedures at Seattle Central for campus officers to follow in the event of a shooting says McClain. He has submitted a document describing procedures during a shooting to the district which is currently being reviewed. One of the five attendees at the event expressed concern that information sessions like this need to be a “higher priority” for the district which McClain hopes to change by hosting regular seminars at SCCC to heighten awareness on campus safety. No concrete dates have been announced for this.

Inevitably the question came up. How does security feel about armed guards?  An idea popularized by the National Rifle Association in the wake of the Newton shootings.

“I wouldn’t allow it,” responds McClain, “if you have a gun in the room, it’s a gun in the room”. This example is perhaps best exemplified by the recent NRA ‘Gun Appreciation Day’ which led to five shootings at three different gun shows. If a shooter were to stop by campus it is unlikely he would follow ‘rules’, so in the spirit of safety a video was shown on how to handle such an encounter.

Escape, hide, and fight were the main tenets covered in the video ‘Shots Fired on Campus: When Lightning Strikes’ filmed at Central Washington University. In the event of a shooting the first call to action is to escape from the campus and if you’re outside, to stay outside says the video. The second is to hide. The video recommends finding a room that you won’t trap yourself in, barricading the door and separating to different corners of the room to make it harder for a shooter to kill multiple people at once. The third which may appear intimidating, is to fight. In life or death situation “to fight for your life” is the obvious route McClain suggests. The video describes attacking the shooter if they enter a room your hiding in by ganging up in order to disable them and to do so with “full commitment”.

The district will continue to see increasing security which recently dealt with a ‘fondling’ case and man with ‘taser’ case in the last two weeks at SCCC, as well as the unsolved murder of Darek Darewski which occurred behind Seattle Central on Harvard early last year. Though campus crime has gotten high exposure, crime rates have remained relatively steady over the past few years and in some areas actually dropped.

Broadway-Edison Building Crime Stats/Screenshot taken by SGS via SCCC

Broadway-Edison Building Crime Stats/Screenshot taken by SGS via SCCC

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