BYU works on preventing school shootings

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Sergeant Elle Martin gives students safety advice
Sergeant Elle Martin gives students safety advice. (University Police)

BYU University Police recently informed students on how they can better prepare and prevent situations like the Oregon Umpqua Community College shooting.

Sgt. Elle Martin said the best measures students can take in preventing campus shootings are by knowing their surroundings and reporting anything bizarre or unusual in conduct that could potentially be a threat to the campus community.

“We encourage students to be proactive instead of reactive in reporting suspicious activity,” Martin said.

Martin also encouraged students to sign up for the Y-Alert system that uses texts to inform students of potentially dangerous situations.

Other helpful resources include informational videos found on the University Police Department’s website. Videos such as “Run, Hide, Fight” and “Shots Fired!” are meant to help prepare students to handle situations more calmly and increase their chance of survival in an active shooting or similar emergency.

Students are taught to remain calm and act quickly, being aware that every second spent reacting is crucial to survival. Martin said students should think in terms of “what if” and be ready for any situation.

Some students admitted to being a little fearful knowing that the BYU Firearms and Weapons Policy declares BYU Campus a “gun-free zone.” Students acknowledged that not everyone who has a gun knows how to use it, some said they could see a benefit to allowing a right to carry defensive weapons on campus.

Josh Sasamaki, a BYU grad student studying electrical engineering, said there is a reason that people go to schools to shoot people.

“A person who is wanting to kill knows that schools have a gun-free zone. I feel that open carrying weapons by law abiding citizens on campus could minimize school shootings,” Sasamaki said.

Lucy Walter, a senior studying Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic, confessed that she thinks it is better to have just the University Police trained in school shooting situations to be the ones carrying guns.

“Just because you have a weapon, and you carry it around doesn’t mean you’re trained,” Walter said.

Martin wanted to reassure students the goal of trained University Police is to eradicate any threat to student’s safety. She also spoke of other agencies that would be called upon should the need arise, including the Provo Police Department, Utah Valley Department of Public Safety and any police department within the surrounding areas.

“We do regular firearms training. We work with other agencies and have active gunman shooting training several times a year,” Martin said.

It is important to the University Police to stay currently trained and updated on situations and incidents like the Oregon shooting so they can act more quickly and more likely ensure the safety of BYU students.

Martin also said University Police are partnered with Homeland Security in their “See Something, Say Something” campaign and once again stressed the importance of reporting peculiar activity.

“It’s really important to know your surroundings and know the people you work and live with,” Martin said. “If students see or hear something unusual, bizarre or out of one’s character, those things should be reported to the police. It all goes back to knowing your surroundings.”

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