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Chief of campus police says county is prepared

Matt Thompson, Staff Reporter - January 23, 2013

In the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting, there is one subject on many minds in this country: gun violence.

“Anytime you have a school shooting it’s a very emotional event and it becomes very scary,” said Mike Luvera, chief of Campus Police. “But statistically speaking, we’re at a pretty safe place being on campus.”

As a national conversation is being conducted in Washington, D.C., students may wonder what preventative measures Central is taking to keep the campus safe.

“We’re as ready as we know how to be,” President James Gaudino said. “We do the best job that we can to prepare for that sort of situation.”

Except for the Washington State Patrol, all other law enforcement agencies in the county share a dispatch center and would respond to an active shooter situation in the local area.

A mutual agreement has been made with other departments to supply all available units to a report of a shooting either on campus or in the community, Luvera said.

“We’re going to have a strong response from across the county,” Luvera said. “So at that point it depends on how many people are there with firearms, what the location is, so as to figure out exactly what the response should be to stop the bloodshed.”

Several times a year, the old Samuelson Union Building is the setting for active shooter training for state and local police agencies, he said.

The campus police have two instructors who train officers in shooter scenarios.

“Based on our training, you can bring a group of officers together from different agencies and they all go in together and work as a team,” Luvera said. “That shows that our concepts, ideas, working relationship, and end goal is all the same.”

Students have a different response procedure which is outlined in the instructional video “Shots Fired.” The video is shown to freshmen during orientation and again at the request of different school departments.

“Shots Fired” advises students to use the “five outs” in the event of a gunman on campus.

If an escape route is available, students should get out quickly and safely, but if that is not possible, students must hide in a room. In this room students must be able to keep out the shooter, call for help, and spread out if there is more than one student in the room.

The five outs are not applicable to every scenario, and students must put themselves into a survival mind-set to ensure their own safety, Luvera said.

“You may have to take out a shooter,” Luvera said. “Being unarmed yourself, it may come down to you having to do something to save your life.”

The 2007 Virginia Tech tragedy was a catalyst for introducing new technology to quicken the response to any danger on campus.

Students and faculty will receive phone calls, text messages and emails with information regarding any situation deemed harmful.

“One of the lessons learned from Virginia Tech was our ability to communicate with faculty, staff and students,” Gaudino said.

Due to a state law, Central maintains a strict no guns on campus policy regardless of whether the student or faculty member has the proper documentation to carry a concealed weapon.

Some students feel this is an infringement of their rights, whereas the state cites it as necessary to ensure a safer environment.

“That’s always been a tension between law enforcement and students,” said Matt Manweller, local state legislator and CWU political science professor. “I understand both sides, so I’m sympathetic to both.”

Students living on campus may check in their firearms to the campus police lockup and those firearms can be checked out at any time.

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