University Police prepared for major threats

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Recent shootings across the nation have caused many to question not only the gun control policy, but the security of students, including those at BYU.

University Police recognized this heightened sense of awareness and Lt. Arnie Lemmon said the officers have plans and the experience to help them should the worst happen at BYU.

BYU Sergeant Ryan Judd surveys campus to keep BYU a safe environment. Photo by Elliott Miller

In 1993, a man threatened President Howard W. Hunter during a fireside in the Marriott Center with a bomb. The bomb wasn’t real, but security officers and police apprehended the man and handcuffed him.

The University Police are well acquainted with dangerous situations like these and are well prepared should they happen again.

BYU Police Chief Larry Stott said in a emergency preparedness video, “In the wake of these tragedies (Virginia Tech), the university has conducted a thorough self-analysis and made appropriate changes to better meet the threat of violence.”

Students can watch training videos like “Shots Fired,” “Flash Point” and others at police.byu.edu under the crime prevention tab to better recognize and preemptively stop students who are at a high risk to take others’ lives. The site can also help prepare students should a mass shooting or emergency situation presents itself.

One of the videos found on the police website, “Shots Fired,” teaches that real gunshots don’t sound like the ones on TV and can actually sound artificial; it’s not unusual for people to think that real gunshots are anything but gunshots. Any sound that could be a gunshot should be treated like one. Don’t second-guess instincts, those moments count.

To make the most of those moments, Jim Sporleder and Randy Spivey from the Center For Personal Protection taught views to use the “seven outs” to aid those in such situations.

Figure out

Come up with a plan and stick to it.

Get out

“If there is a path of escape, don’t hesitate. Trust your instincts and don’t worry about others validating your actions. Leave your belongings and run,” Spivey said.

Call out

Call 911 immediately or as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Hide out

If there are no safe paths of escape, find a good hiding spot. A room with a lock is ideal.

Keep out

Lock the door if possible and barricade the entrance with copiers, furniture and anything around. Turn off radios and noise-producing objects like cell phones.

Spread out

Never huddle together in groups. People have a tendency to huddle for moral support. Instead, spread out and take cover. Sporleder said it is much harder for a gunman to harm a group of students spread out than ones who are grouped together like fish in a barrel. While hiding, talk about what to do if the shooter enters.

Take out

In this video, Chris McMurtey of the Eastern Washington University Police said basic instincts and adrenaline can save lives should worse come to worst.

“Before the police get there, it’s you against that bad guy and you need to do anything you can to stop him. To take out the shooter you will need to act as a team and make a plan of action and stay completely committed to that plan,” McMurtey said. “To accomplish this you will need to become more aggressive than you ever thought possible.”

Carl Whiting, officer in charge of crime prevention at BYU, worked at the Los Angeles Police Department for 26 years before coming to BYU and has great faith in the system already set up on campus.

“The best thing people can do is to make sure they are signed up for the Y Alert system,” Whiting said.

Y Alert is BYU’s emergency broadcast system. It works in three ways: It can send a text message to cell phones with important emergency information like a warning to stay away from campus. It can also send an automated message that overrides any current phone calls and broadcasts an emergency message directly out of a cell phones speaker. It can also send out notifications by email.

Lt. Lemmon explained the university wants 100 percent of the students and faculty signed up for Y Alerts. To sign up for Y Alert go to MyBYU, click on Personal Information under Communication, next click Contact, then update campus emergency alert contact information.

When a Y Alert is received, heed the warning and spread the information to those who may not have received it.

In the “Shots Fired” video, Gary Gasseling, deputy chief of the Eastern Washington police department said, “Always follow your feelings. Even if you can’t quite put your finger on it, follow your gut instinct. In most cases, your intuitive thoughts are right on target.”

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