It was in the early morning hours of April 16, 2007, on the Virginia Tech campus when Seung-Hui Cho fired the shots that were heard around the world.
Disturbing school shootings have become all-too-familiar in the news since the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999.
Colleges around the nation began to take action when the one of the deadliest school shootings in history took the lives of 33 people at Virginia Tech.
Since 2005, UNK has become one of many U.S. college campuses that released information to the public about what to do if an active shooter is on campus. Police and Parking Services will present Active Shooter Preparation and Response Training in the Ockinga Conference Room in the student union from 2-3:30 p.m. on Feb. 18.
“An active shooter situation can happen anywhere at any time whether you are here at campus or at the mall. You never know where or when it’s going to happen,” said Michelle Hamaker, director of Police and Parking Services. “Each situation is really different. Someone can’t tell you, ‘this is what you have to do.’ As an individual, each person has to decide what to do for themselves. We just want to give them a few tools to determine what they might be able to do in different situations.”
Police and Parking Services tries to put on different educational classes throughout the year, covering varied topics from self-defense to how to protect your property. The active shooter training is offered once in the spring and once in the fall.
The active shooter training is based on the video “Shots Fired,” by Eric Hoover. The instructional DVD demonstrates strategies for preventing and surviving a gun rampage. The video includes interviews with law-enforcement experts and demonstrates how viewers might live through such an ordeal by running, hiding or barricading a door.
It also depicts how a group of people could overpower and disarm a shooter.
“The course is to let people know what options are available to them if they ever get put in that situation, covering three options: get out, hide out or take-out.
“Your options are really dependent on where you are compared to where the shooter is and what your capabilities are,” Hamaker said. “The video does a really good job at covering all the details and we talk specifically about UNK and our policies.”
In addition to the video, LeAnn Obrecht, director of counseling and health care, and Brandon Benitz, assistant to the dean of student life, will also be giving presentations at the training. “They will be talking about what resources they have in their division and some of the signs you might look for in individuals who may be having a difficult time,” Hamaker said.
With the recent shooting in Arizona that injured U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and killed five others, Hamaker believes these reoccurring events are one of the main reasons to give active shooter presentations. “We are constantly looking at what trends are happening across the U.S. We felt that it is important to at least educate and arm individuals with the tools they need to help them in these situations,” she said. “We want people to be aware of their surroundings such as their exits and things they can utilize if an event like this happens.”
Past active shooter presentations have typically drawn more staff and faculty than students. Hamaker hopes that by getting the word out more students will attend these presentations.
“The first few classes we had a large attendance of about 75 people, but we are hoping to reach out more to students and prepare them for what they can do in these situations.”
Although UNK has not had a history of an active shooter on campus, Hamaker insists that it is best to be prepared, “We have been lucky enough not to have any active shooters at UNK. but crime is there because of opportunity and the best way to prevent crime is to get rid of the opportunity.”
Active shooter training
Feb. 18 from 2-3:30 p.m. in the Ockinga Conference Room of the Nebraskan Student Union.
Presented by Police and Parking Services.