Police deny safety videos

Sep 162008
Authors: Trevor Simonton

Student government officials said last week that the CSU Police Department would not give them safety education videos purchased by the university to distribute to the campus community via campus TV.

University spokesperson Dell Rae Moellenberg, speaking on behalf of the department, said CSUPD wanted to show the videos in a “controlled environment where resources are available and questions and concerns can immediately be addressed by professionals.”

The department did not respond to numerous further inquiries from the Collegian and Moellenberg.

CSU is following a national trend of schools purchasing the videos, which are titled “Shots Fired: When Lightning Strikes,” and “Shots Fired On Campus: When Lightning Strikes,” in reaction to the shootings at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

Taylor Smoot, the president of the Associated Students of CSU, said student government has been trying to acquire the tapes from CSUPD so they can distribute them through CTV.

But the department, which he said spent close to $1,500 on the tapes, will not release them.

The videos, purchased from the Center for Personal Protection and Safety, provide students and faculty step-by-step instruction on what to do if a gunman were on campus.

CSUPD said the video “provides individual students, employees and staff members with critical guidance on how to recognize and survive an active shooter.”

The training tapes tell students first to decipher what is going on, to get out of the building as soon as possible and to call the police. If faced with a shooter, the videos encourage students not to lay on the ground or huddle together in fear, but to use their strength in numbers and their surroundings to improvise a counter-attack on the gunman. Smoot said CSUPD has been working with Housing and Dining Services to present the video to students in the residence halls.

Housing and Dining Director Guy Arnesen said the showing is still in the planning stages and that CSU officials are still working with CSUPD and the Emergency Management Team to find the best way to get the information to the students.

Although CSUPD does not release any specific information about campus safety measures for security reasons, Moellenberg said police train for numerous emergencies on a regular basis, and plans are in place for a number of emergency situations.

Andy Felker, a business major at CSU, said he thinks the video will “invoke fear in students and put feelings of tension in the air . and we have better ways to spend our money.”

CSU students who feel uncomfortable walking alone at night are always able to enlist the help of a campus service officer as part of the Safe Walk program.

CSUPD pays the officers to accompany students and faculty around campus and its surrounding area. The Safe Walk service is free and can be contacted at (970)-491-1155. Jessica Aragon, a human development and family studies major, said she feels “completely safe” on campus, adding that while she did feel uneasy in the days immediately following the Virginia Tech shootings, she now feels that she is out of harm’s way.

Further aiming to contribute to student safety is the RAVE emergency text-alert system, which sends text messages to students in an emergency. Moellenberg said 31,000 students and employees have signed up for the system.

“The text message system is really helpful, when the tornadoes were happening in Windsor, I got a lot of updates on what was happening,” Aragon said.

CSUPD said it’s important to “know the campus, learn the streets and buildings so that you always know where you are. Always be aware.”

Senior reporter Trevor Simonton can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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