Littlestone also discussed a murder-suicide on campus that left an associate professor dead. Littlestone was the incident commander at the time of the incident.
“We had massive support from folks in surrounding areas, including over 350 law enforcement officers from many different agencies,” Lt. Littlestone said of the murder-suicide response. “So we had to coordinate that. Cops are going to get there no matter what, and if you don’t have the means to communicate with them they’re going to look for threats on their own. That quickly becomes a problem for you.”
One point of confusion for responding officers was that UCLA officials refer to the second floor of the building where the shooting occurred as Floor One. Not all law enforcement officers working off of blueprints understood that.
Following the shooting, which exposed deficiencies in classroom locking among other things, UCLA upgraded general assignment door locks, created a Campus Safety Task Force and improved it’s Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT) and Crisis Response Team (CRT).
Experts Share Insights From the Field
Timm is the Vice President of Facility Engineering Associates and an emergency planning consultant. As a board certified Physical Security Professional (PSP) and the author of School Security: How to Build and Strengthen a School Safety Program, Timm is a nationally acclaimed school security expert.
Timm began by talking about the significance of getting commitment from school officials to improve campus safety.
“If teachers are complaining about drills being a waste of time, that’s not a teacher problem, that’s an administrator problem,” Timm said. “You need top down buy in so the superintendent, principal and everyone else is on board during drills; you play like you practice.”
Timm also talked about the importance of having B and C incident command teams to stay prepared for emergencies that might occur outside of regular school hours or when people are on vacation.
He also stressed the importance of working with local agencies to maximize the effectiveness of communication systems.
“We all have great notification systems, but we’re rarely connected to the community like we should be,” Timm said. “I wonder if we’re thinking about collaborating in a way that lets us share the benefits of these great communication systems we’re all investing in.”
Cugno is a special agent for the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. Cugno focused on threat assessments and praised the efforts of campus protection officials, saying it’s the FBI’s job to empower such people to continue improving the security structures they have in place.
“In the last ten years I’ve seen a really nice evolution of programs in threat assessment and management,” Cugno told attendees. “We can’t quantify the work you’re doing, but we do know there’s success there and you can see it.”
Cugno said an effective threat assessment process starts with gathering as much input as possible to develop context around a person’s behavior.
“The IDing, assessing, managing, all this needs to be done in a multi-disciplinary manner, campus safety can’t do it by themselves” Cugno explained. “If we don’t work together, we can’t see all of the data points and connect all the dots. Even if the nurse or janitor or law enforcement officer isn’t in the assessment meetings, their input is important. Fortunately, the sharing of information is becoming more seamless and people are becoming more educated as a result.”
Cugno also talked about the importance of appropriately responding when someone’s behavior may pose a threat.
“Expulsion or banning someone from campus might be necessary, but what comes next?” Cugno asked attendees.
Having proper consideration for the victim is another area Cugno said school officials must get right.
“One thing I see across the board is the idea of humiliation with reports, because the gossip mill churns on campuses,” Cugno said. “Maintaining confidentiality will pay huge dividends. If you’re not seen as safeguarding information why would someone give you information?”
Training Is The Common Thread
The unifying message coming from all of the panelists was the key role that training plays in emergency preparedness.
“At the height of an emergency, everyone defaults to whatever training and knowledge we’ve been given,” Gay said.
Gay compared all-hazards training now to fire drills that became standard after the 1958 fire at Chicago’s Our Lady of Angels School. Timm also referenced the Our Lady of Angels fire and noted that no child has died in a school fire since that tragedy because of the effectiveness of fire drills.
“I try to point out with the success rate of fire drills,” Timm said. “We need to carry that success over to other types of incidents.”
Timm says schools shouldn’t start emergency preparedness training with a full blown active shooter exercise, but rather something more manageable like a tabletop exercise. After executing that, school officials could conduct a contained drill. Timm says he’s seen benefits from schools carving out three minutes of every staff meeting to discuss emergency preparedness procedures.
“There’s only two times when we learn if our emergency strategies work,” Timm told attendees. “One is when an emergency is going on, which is pretty inconvenient, and the other is when you practice with drills.”
Lt. Littlestone says he now runs Incident Command System (ICS) drills with administrators every quarter, including a B team in the drills for redundancy.
“It’s a slow process training everyone, but training works, period,” Lt. Littlestone said. “Anything you can give to folks on campus helps, whether it’s Run, Hide, Fight or anything else. You have to train these people to play a part.”
All of the panelists discussed mistakes they’ve made personally or seen others make to help attendees learn from their experiences and avoid similar pitfalls.
That’s one of the reasons we believe events like the Campus Safety Conferences are so valuable. By connecting thought leaders in the industry, Campus Safety hopes security professionals are able to better themselves and make their campus communities safer.
With our conferences in Dallas, Philadelphia and Long Beach, we believe we accomplished that goal, and we’re excited to see everyone again next year!
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