WRITTEN BY SWIC Weekly
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth and final installment of the four-part series “Guns and SWIC.”)
Dorothy, you are not in high school anymore. Instead, you are at Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC) – and consider it just like a workplace.
And, when is the last time your workplace ever “practiced” for a possible active shooter?
“College and universities are different,” explained Chief Robert Luttrell, Director of Public Safety at SWIC, referring and comparing SWIC to K-12 school districts. “They [college students] are adults capable of making their own decisions.”
Therefore, if you expected to have a campus-wide “practice drill” to find out what you should do should there ever be an active shooter on any of SWIC’s campuses, you can forget it. That’s not to say SWIC does not have a plan of attack.
“The whole idea of preparation is being aware,” said Luttrell. “It’s having a plan. It’s having a plan at every moment.”
SWIC utilizes its important SWIC Alert system to keep campus safe.
“SWIC Alert includes emails, text messages, and notifications across the computer. We have a phone system as well, able to alert people by a series of beeps and message that an incident is going on,” said Luttrell. “Hopefully with those four avenues of communication, individuals get immediate notification of what to do.”
It’s why Pubic Safety wants every student and employee to subscribe to SWIC Alert service.
“As you know, if we go into a locked down mode, if a student says he wants to leave, we can’t keep them here,” said Luttrell. “I would highly advise you not to leave.”
It’s why Luttrell said to consider SWIC like a workplace.
“One thing different about school districts K-12 versus colleges and universities, K-12 are minors, where students are under the care of teachers,” said Luttrell.
SWIC is also considered an open campus.
“When we are open, every door is open,” said Luttrell. “We do get individuals on campus regularly who are not affiliated with the campus. They just come here to use a computer. They come to sit around and use the facilities.”
And Public Safety cannot really shove them out.
“Because this is an open campus,” he explained.
It’s one reason Luttrell would love to have some type of noticeable identification for both employees and students.
“That’s something we are working on,” Luttrell admitted. “It would be helpful for everyone to wear an ID because then you can identify personnel because we have so many faculty members, whether they are adjuncts or full-timers or staff. It is difficult to know who is who.”
Whether such ID policy will be enacted has yet to be determined.
In fact, when it comes to security, there are only a couple roads to follow, he explained.
“There are two ways for security,” said Luttrell. “There is nothing and then there is so much security that it makes it become impossible to get from Point A to Point B. Some place along the spectrum you have to find what you are most comfortable with and with what your organization is comfortable with. Is it less — or, is it more?”
“It is difficult because there are so many people who want nothing and so many people who are only comfortable with everything. It’s finding that happy medium.”
Luttrell will be the first to acknowledge that school security has heightened since April 20, 1999. That’s the day Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School and opened fire, killing 12 students and one teacher, injuring even more. That horrifying event changed the state of school safety forever.
Unfortunately, these school shootings haven’t slowed down. Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Red Lake…the list grows as does the death toll. Since Columbine, there has been at least 143 children, educators and others have been killed in assaults on school grounds.
“We take your safety and the safety of everybody on campus, including students, faculty, staff and guests seriously,” said Luttrell, noting that his staff trains regularly on active violence. During the break between Winter 2018 and Spring 2019 semesters, public safety did specific training scenarios.
What Luttrell requests is that faculty, staff, and students take advantage of the public safety videos provided on Infoshare (for faculty) and Estorm (for students). The video on Infoshare, for example, provides information and what to do during a possible shooter at a workplace.
SWIC Public Safety also encourages faculty to participate in its training seminars. For example, a week before the Spring 2019 semester began, leaders from the SWIC Public Safety Department facilitated a workshop to inform faculty and participants about proper emergency procedures, crime reporting, and the services offered through their department. The training is based, in part, on “4 E’s”: educate, evade, escape and engage.
“4 E’s is a program that is taught by Tier One Tactical Solutions, of experienced St. Louis area officers,” said Luttrell. “It really coordinates with decision-based training, similar to the ‘Run, Hide, Fight’ scenario. So, it is decision-based training for individuals to make decisions in any active situation. It’s not just about active violence.”
It means being aware of your surroundings.
“If you see something, say something,” said Luttrell, whether that be a student or visitor making you uncomfortable or even to address the concerns of a teacher.
Such training is not only offered to faculty and employees; it’s offered to students as well.
“We can teach it once a month if we get the interest,” said Luttrell. “The people we are driving is the faculty. And, the faculty is reluctant to do it due to lack of available instruction time.”
Again, he cannot make it mandatory.
“These situations are highly fluid,” said Luttrell. “Because they are so dynamic, they are subject to change. That’s why we encourage everyone to attend the ‘4E’s’ training, to get some different decision-making scenario experiences.”
He added, “Preparedness is based upon being aware of your surroundings and situations, whether that be at school, workplace or a social setting. It’s being aware and then having some options. It’s not about being just here. It’s being prepared for everyday life.”
Sign Up for SWIC’s Emergency Alert System
The intent of the SWIC Alert service is to notify SWIC students and employees by e-mail and/or text message of campus closures for weather and other emergencies. Use the following link: