Campus emergency protocols encourage safety, responsibility

With the rise of active shooter incidents in the United States, students and faculty members are highly encouraged to be aware of the policies to follow in order to promote safety precautions in case of an active shooter incident were to take place. (Photo Illustration by Cassandra Nguyen | The Collegian)

In 2019, there have been 293 mass shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive. While there haven’t been any mass shootings at Kansas State, the university has protocols in place in order to keep students and faculty safe in the event of one occurring.

Ronnie Grice, chief of the K-State Police Department, said the first thing anyone should do during an emergency is call 911. Then, the effected area becomes the “hot zone.” Authorities will send alerts using the K-State Alert system and can use the tornado alert system PA for an immediate warning. In addition “Reach Boxes” — yellow boxes attached to walls — are located in most academic buildings to warn faculty and staff.

When the police arrive at the “hot zone,” the area will be cleared and locked down.

“We’re asking everyone to stay away from the area until that area has been released by public safety officials or police,” Grice said. “And at same time, we will probably start notifying different areas on campus to go into lockdown mode.”

When in lockdown mode, Grice stresses that students shouldn’t become passive targets. New training emphasizes being proactive by barricading doorways and fighting back if an assailant enters the area. This creates a distraction, Grice said.

“This is the most current information that’s dispersed out of how to react in this situation,” he said. “As time goes, it may continue to be evolved as we learn more. Unfortunately, these events are happening more often.”

Grice said campus police would like to get a system that would lock down the buildings remotely from the station. The University of Kansas, Grice said, has this system.

“Eventually we hope to get there,” Grice said. “But because of costs, all it’s going to take a little bit. It’s not a cheap project, but we’re moving forward and trying to get there.”

In the meantime, students should also be aware of their surroundings because, ultimately, they are responsible for their own safety.

A K-State Campus Police car sits in front of Nichols Hall following a campus-wide lockdown. (Parker Robb | The Collegian)

“We hold a lot of the university community to be somewhat responsible for their safety, because there’s not many [K-State police officers],” Grice said. “So we do a lot of safety training classes of how to make yourself safe on campus, off campus and how to protect your valuables.”

According to vice president for administration and finance Cindy Bontrager, no students or parents have expressed concerns to the university about an active shooter event.

Bontrager said there is a citizen response training called Alert, Lockdown, inform, Counter and Evacuate — abbreviated ALiCE — on Sept. 12 in the Cottonwood Room of the K-State Student Union if students are interested in learning safety procedures.

In addition to ALiCE, campus police do training with other law enforcement agencies.

“We do a lot of planning, we do a lot of training,” Grice said. “We foster relationships with local agencies, because one agency cannot handle a situation of that magnitude by itself. The FBI has a lot of resources that are available to us, and we have a liaison with the Kansas City office to all colleges and universities in the state of Kansas and Missouri. So we trained to keep with up to date. They notify us of the different resources that are made available to us.”

If anyone is concerned someone may be a risk to be a shooter, Grice said to alert authorities so they can do an independent investigation. According to Grice, there have been no reports of any concern to date. In addition, since a bill passed on July 1, 2017, allowing firearms to be concealed and carried on campus, there has only been one incident that broke that law.

My name is Bailey Britton and I am the former editor-in-chief of the Collegian. Previously, I have been the assistant news editor and the managing editor. I have also interned for the Manhattan Mercury and the Colby Free Press. I grew up in Colby, Kansas, and I am a junior in journalism and English. Through the Collegian, I aim to provide the K-State community with quality news coverage while we learn to serve our campus.