By: Domenic Kershner
Nowadays, most students have faced the reality that they may not be entirely safe on campus or at school. Our country has struggled with the massive issue of school shootings on the rise in recent years. Students’ ability to have a safe learning environment has been at risk for a while. The tragedies have piled up, and students deserve to feel their safety is at the forefront. Being able to feel safe when you come to campus is important. There are so many questions when it comes to this delicate topic: Do students think they are genuinely safe on campus? Are there proper procedures in place? Are there enough drills done to prepare students and security officers for these situations? Do students feel safe living on campus? I was curious to get a wide range of perspectives on these questions. I spoke with a few different students and Chief of Campus Public Safety Ross Annable on the subjects.
Each school has guidelines and drills to be as prepared as possible if these situations were ever to occur. Most SUNY schools give instructions on what to do in an active shooter situation or give their own version of the run, hide, and fight guidelines. I read over a few of their different outlined versions of the guidelines and it can be a tough area to give instructions on how to survive but watching those tutorials can be vital to surviving one of these horrific situation. NCCC Sanborn campus has many public safety and peace officers, along with the academy officers as well. There is heavy security presence on both the NFCI and Sanborn campus. NFCI has the day shift officer. In housing, they have an armed officer. There are over 250 security cameras throughout the campus. The school is lucky enough to have armed officers who can respond to these situations immediately, as opposed to waiting for outside law enforcement. Outside law enforcement can take up to 15 minutes or so to arrive on any given situation. According to Chief of Campus Public Safety, Ross Annable, all officers have all just completed the police academy over the last three years. A few of the officers having prior police service including Chief Annable who worked in the Sheriffs department and Assistant Chief Terry Gill who worked for Lockport Police. Many of the officers have vast experience and training. Many of the officers are now armed. Chief Annable also stated, the academy will have active shooter training that will be coming this summer, which they will particpate in annually along with the normal qualifications. Most officers are equipped with body cams. They also have developed trauma bags that are located throughout the campus, developed for staff to help in any emergency. Chief Annable said he felt the school does a great job providing the necessary resources and equipment. He also stated they understand they must stay vigilant and up to date.
The school and security teams seem to make strong efforts to make you feel safe to do your learning, studying, athletics, theatre, art, or whatever else on campus. Through asking students their perspectives, it was obvious most feel the school feel that is true. It is always good to acknowledge there could always be room for strengthening and improving security measures. There always can be room for more training and drills. A student in his second year at NCCC, Domenic Micciarello, when asked on the topic stated he generally feels safe throughout campus. He did state that maybe they could start limiting the amount of unlocked entrances throughout the day. Now metal detectors are too difficult and not necessary but limiting the access points to the buildings sounds practical. Another student who lives on campus stated, she believes they handle security pretty well especially in the dorms since you can really only use the one door and security officers are always there. It seems no matter where you go on the schools property some security will be there. One student Angelo said that armed security is essential, it is the only thing that can truly stop a violent person if something happens. It is true they are the first response and situations can be absolute chaos. The lockdown drills should occur more than once or twice a year. Some students are not on campus everyday. Other than videos and instructions on the website doing these drills regularly could help students understand what to do in these chaotic situations.
The security on campus must always stay vigilant with the troubling times we live in, but it takes cooperation from us to make it work smoother. Reading up on what to do in this situation can help. It’s always important if you see something on campus, say something. The majority of students I spoke to believe that their campus is a safe environment that they can go learn and be with friends. It is a challenging topic with the constant tragic events but being prepared and aware is important. Knowing what to do and that the school you attend everyday is prepared truly is a good thing and should make students feel reassured. It is unfortunate we have to have these discussions but it is always better to stay prepared.