Violence on school campuses across the county has many institutions reviewing the plans they've put in place for emergencies. We often hear about public schools going on lockdown as a proactive approach to threats near campus, but one East Texas college doesn't have a lockdown plan, because they say every emergency situation is different and a lockdown isn't always practical.
When a man armed with an AK-47 began firing shots into the air at the University of Texas at Austin in 2010, the campus went into a lockdown.
During the shooting at a Lone Star College campus in January, protocol was the same. Tuesday, another Lone Star campus, outside of Houston, went into lockdown when a man wielding a sharp blade began stabbing people.
"Lockdown" is a familiar term, used multiple times in emergency preparedness manuals. It instructs students and staff to close, lock and barricade doors and to turn off the lights and try to hide.
But at Tyler Junior College, you won't see the word "lockdown" anywhere.
"It's kind of the catch phrase that's being used now universally, but I see it as a limiting factor for our students our faculty and our employees," says Thomas Johnson, the executive director of TJC's security and public services.
TJC doesn't want their students and staff to stay put and wait for help if they could run.
"Back during the Columbine shooting, [that] was the way that schools were trained at that time. Lockdown and wait until the SWAT team gets there. Unfortunately, as we saw, that allowed those perpetrators to go throughout the school shooting, waiting on a SWAT team," says Johnson.
At UT Tyler, current policy prompts the school to issue a lockdown or evacuation when there's danger to the campus as a whole. But they add,
"Due to unique characteristics of each building, there's not a one-size-fits-all lockdown procedure. We work with our designated safety liaisons (DSLs), who are assigned in each building, to help communicate with and direct students/faculty to safe areas during the lockdown. The majority of our classroom doors can be locked from the inside without a key, simply by a latch. DSLs would direct students and faculty to classrooms and ensure that they (classrooms) are locked."
With more than 40 buildings and 90 acres, TJC says they prefer using what they call, "situational protocols," which are different guidelines for different types of events.
"[They need to] evaluate their own situation and where they are and realize they have control over what they do, as opposed to just sitting and waiting," says Johnson.
Tyler Junior College says they encourage their students and employees to lock and barricade doors, turn off lights and hide if fleeing from danger is not an option. As a very last resort, they also encourage people to fight back against an attacker.
Friday, August 22 2014 3:11 PM EDT2014-08-22 19:11:37 GMT
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