Chief Lawson addresses safety on campus

By Ashley Mae Orcutt
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Screenshot from CSUMB Active Shooter Training video.

In this day and age, many students wonder if their campus is safe from the dangers that unfortunately make headlines all too often. With schools at risk of shootings, it is very important that we come up with ways for us to remain safe during an emergency. That’s why I went to the University Police Department (UPD) to ask Earl Lawson, Police Chief of California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB), some questions on how we can keep our campus safe.

“Run, hide and fight; our message is in that video,” Lawson said, as he also does in the video on campus safety that was made two years ago. This approach encourages students and staff to run out of the building if they are far enough away from an active shooter. If they can’t run out of the building without being spotted by the shooter, then they need to hide under desks and barricade the doors of the room that they’re in. If the shooter ends up coming into the room, fight them with whatever object that can be used as a weapon.

“We really weren’t doing a good job at penetrating the student population with this [safety] information, so we went and made the video. It was our intention to have this shown at new student orientation, new employee orientation, push it out on social media to get other folks to watch it,” said Lawson. He encourages everyone to watch the video. You can watch the video by visiting the following: youtube.com/watch?v=0NGBTdnRdQw.

Screenshot of OtterAlert texts from CSUMB Active Shooter Training video.

Along with the video, CSUMB also has the OTTERalert system which alerts students, or anyone else, via text message of any emergencies that are happening on campus. When students attend new student orientation, they are automatically signed up to this program. “We have really robust emergency notification systems that are consolidated into one system called Everbridge, and Everbridge is through county communications,” Lawson states.

“If an incident occurs on campus, we are dispatched out of County Communications in Salinas, and a dispatcher can push a message out to all of your phones over the Public Address System, all over your emails and update the website within minutes,” said Lawson in regards to the OTTERalert system.

“After one of these events [school shooting] occurs, they’ll interview a bunch of people who say ‘you know what, I knew something was wrong with that person’ or ‘all of the signs were there’ and people weren’t communicating,” said Lawson, who also said not to be scared of reporting anything suspicious if it means keeping our campus safe.

A lot of times, people are scared and don’t report anything that seems out of the ordinary. However, if more people did, we could possibly prevent situations—like the Florida or Vegas shootings—from happening. Therefore, he reminds us, “If you see someone in crisis and know someone’s in crisis, reach out for help. If you see something suspicious or something unusual, report it. If you see something, say something.”

“This campus takes this stuff very seriously, we have a care team and a Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT). They both kind of function separately and differently, but they’re all kind of the same focus,” said Lawson.

The organizations included in the care team are: the Personal Growth and Counseling Center, Residential Life, Judicial Affairs, the Dean of Students Office, the Rape Crisis Center and UPD. This team talks with students who need help, are struggling or in crisis and provide these students with guidance to get them through whatever they’re going through.

“When it becomes more serious or some sort of threat or a risk to the community, it is shared with the BIT which is Human Resources, Title IX, the police department, Judicial Affairs and the counseling center, and it’s more of a threat assessment group,” said Lawson. They question what the real risk is and what they need to do as an organization to address the threat. “The organization is based off the National Behavioral Intervention Team Association,” Lawson continued.

To learn more about how you can be prepared, view the CSUMB Active Shooter Training Video on YouTube under CSUMB’s account. If you unsubscribed to OTTERalert, or want your family members and friends to sign up for it, go to csumb.edu/police/personal-safety-0, and follow the directions on the website.

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