Seminar to avert crisis, casualties

Active shooters, quick thinking highlight forum

By Robert Clinton, Sports Editor

Following a decade of increasing school shootings, the Contra Costa Community College District Police Services held a workshop to enlighten students and faculty about the proper actions to take in an active shooter scenario.
The Student Together Awareness Response Safe (STARS) seminar was narrated by Officer Charles Hankins, he relayed statistics gathered by law enforcement about the severity and frequency of school shootings.
From 2000-2013 there were 160 shooting incidents, nearly one per month (11.4 per year). In those shootings there were 1,043 casualties with 486 killed and 557 wounded.
Hankins opened the hour- long seminar with a game that featured split-second decision- making similar to the speed needed when making split-second life or death decisions.
The ABC game gave the 31 people in attendance an opportunity to say what they would do when faced with an assailant but the player must use the letter of the alphabet determined by his/her place in the order.
After stumbling through the game, the run, hide, fight concept was explained to the group.
Listeners were urged to recognize escape routes and be prepared to leave belongings behind in order to leave swiftly.
Keeping hands visible and obeying orders by police was also stressed as the intensity of an active situation causes tunnel vision for police which can lead to deadly mistakes.
Health and human services major Kristin Lobos listened intently to the presentation and found the information applicable to daily life.
“I found the situational awareness information interesting,” she said. “Knowing exit points. I plan on applying this immediately.”
The hide portion featured officers teaching attendees how to use items in the room or in one’s possession to barricade doors or windows. The information states a shooter is looking for the easiest targets and slowing the process by simply blocking the door and remaining hidden can save lives.
CCC has experience with deadly shootings. Roughly 20 years ago there was a murder on campus. Campus security has shifted to an approach that integrates more community outreach in combating a potential tragedy.
Hankins said, “Police aides take a more personal approach in building relations with the campus community, in addition to a larger well-armed police presence. Officials hope to head off potential attacks through information sharing enhanced public relations.”
The same can not be said for all of the campus’ in the Contra Costa Community College District.
At the Los Medanos College Brentwood campus, Police Services parking enforcement officer Juliana Salas is usually the only officer on duty at the campus.
“They haven’t put the parking officers through active shooter training yet,” she said. “It worries me. I’m parking enforcement, not a sworn officer. I don’t even have a gun.”
For Salas, her best option is the same as the rest of the general public’s. She should call 911 if a threat is present.
Third in the process is fight. Used as a last resort, it was explained that everyone can fight (although some better than others) and at times can be the last strand of survival.
Office mates were instructed to band together to minimize casualties and provide a united front in the face of danger. Also they should find a way to use all the items in the room that can potentially be used as a weapon.
The police did not promote vigilantism, only the natural instinct to protect ourselves and each other in dangerous situations.