T-Sgt. Nate Leonard, Columnist
On Monday April 2, Oikos University in Oakland, California experienced a horrible tragedy. A former student stormed into a campus building and opened fire on several people. At least seven people were killed and three others were wounded in the shooting. The gunman was later apprehended at a supermarket without further incident. When I hear of any school shooting it automatically makes me think of the shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007. That incident was a highly publicized event and resulted in the loss of 33 lives. This past year I had the unfortunate opportunity to attend the funeral of Virginia Tech police officer Deriek Crouse. While at Virginia Tech, myself and other members of our department met up with a local sheriff deputy who responded to the shooting in 2007. He walked us through the academic building where this tragedy took place and gave us a step-by-step description of how the events unfolded. Although it was very difficult to hear how that event unfolded, it made me realize that Virginia Tech is no different than SUNY Oneonta. After speaking with many different members of the Virginia Tech community, I remember all of them stating that they just couldn’t believe it happened there.
Police agencies across the country are now focusing heavily on what is referred to as Response to Active Shooter Training. This type of training evolved after it was determined that when these types of school shootings occur, there is not enough time to wait for the SWAT or tactical teams to respond to the scene. It takes time to assemble these teams and have them respond to the location; by the time they get there the incident is most likely over. Active Shooter training for police is now geared towards training all police officers in the same types of methods for responding to an active shooter so that the first responding patrol officers can enter the building and stop the loss of lives, rather than waiting for a special tactical team. The basis for this training is that if all police officers are trained similarly, it doesn’t matter if members of different agencies are the first to arrive on scene. They have been trained in the same type of tactics and can enter the building immediately and work together to stop the threat and prevent more harm. In New York State, it is mandated that Active Shooter Training be taught to every recruit officer in the police academy. Here at Oneonta, all of our officers have been trained and our department hosts several other Active Shooter classes to train officers from all over New York State. We hope nothing like these unfortunate events ever happens here or anywhere else again, however as police officers we know we need to prepare, so we can function at the best of our abilities if need be. Our hearts go out to the members of the Oikos University community and the loved ones of those lost.