Story by Gus Wright | Contributing Writer
Middle Tennessee State University held a school shooting drill on Aug. 26. The school held training in the wake of increased gun violence across the country, most notably being the Uvalde shooting on May 24, 2022, where 19 students and two teachers were fatally shot while 17 others were wounded. It is also worth noting the fatal shooting that occurred at MTSU’s Murphy Center on May 18, 2022, which left one dead and one critically injured.
Three police officers, Sgt. Jason Hurley, Capt. Jeff Martinez and Lt. Jacob Wagner, ran this drill with an audience of faculty members.
The updated protocol for MTSU is Avoid Deny Defend, also known as Run Hide Fight. The drill consisted of looking at active attack events, or attempted mass murder, and looking at what could have been done to help reduce casualties at the time. The officers then discussed the profile of an attacker, with there being several identifiers for them, but no concrete profile. The officers then described the multi-pronged approach, which includes the usage of housing and faculty who can notify law enforcement of risks before active attacks could occur or when they do occur.
They also discussed risk factors, like a history of or exposure to violence, substance abuse or dependence, stalking, harassing, threatening behavior, negative family dynamics or support system, isolation, instability, and concern of others. They also presented an analysis of active attack events, with there being a total of 464 events from 2000-2021, a majority of attacks being at businesses, outdoor events and schools.
The officers reminded faculty that they are allowed to carry a concealed weapon for their own and students’ safety, with there being an explanation given on what faculty can do to ensure their safety while in the classroom. With this comes the introduction of new alarms in some classrooms, with the goal of them being to lock classrooms down at the time of an emergency.
After the presentation, the floor was open to questions, with faculty stating that they want safety measures to policy and area consistency, pointing to the rooms in the Business and Aerospace Building where people can come and go as they please.
The officers also mentioned that training for active attacks is being provided on a weekly basis with there being a reassessment for space.
They responded to this by saying that they were not consulted on alarm systems, specifically blue switches, but they are working on more organization of methods, with there being a short form and signage protocol being developed for teachers on what to do and what to tell students to do.
After asking students on campus how they felt about their own safety, most said that they felt generally safe. However, faculty still expressed fear, citing a lack of control of the situation.
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