Public Safety and college administration are looking to prepare and alert students to the possibility of a violent attack on campus.
Since the Columbine massacre in 1999, there have been over 270 shootings on campuses in the U.S. according to an ABC News report in Feb.
“As a result of all these terrible tragedies, it has given us a heightened sense of awareness and alertness, and, at the same time, [forced us to ask] what can we do to prove ourselves? What we can do is improve our cooperation with the local police departments. God forbid there be an incident around here, we’ll be prepared for it,” said Fred Aliberti, director of Public Safety.
Currently if students want to keep themselves accessible to information on what’s happening on campus, Public Safety recommends signing up for the New York alert system.
According to Aliberti, “The New York alert system is an older system, but it gets basic information out there in case of emergency.”
Because the system is outdated, administration will be switching to a new one called Alertus, a mass-notification system. Alertus is designed to alert individuals across campus by utilizing all existing available infrastructure and IT assets along with innovative appliances to serve gaps in coverage.
“We will be able to use text and computers, send emails, hit the speaker system, and if you get the app, it will come directly to your phone. It’s kind of like a one-stop shop,” said Aliberti. “Also, it comes with alert beacons, which are similar to fire alarm strobes. The beacon receives and displays messages on the emergency situation happening.”
Aliberti went on to say that Alertus is a “work in progress and will have to be tested,” but should be expected to be in place by May 2017.
“I think, in general throughout the past few years, we’re always aware and alert of what’s going on around the country,” said Aliberti. “As a result of that, last May we did an active shooter exercise here on campus, in conjunction with the North Greenbush Police Department. We stimulated an active shooter, so it was good to go through that process and get to know all the officers involved.”
Public Safety publishes an annual security report on the college’s website that shows the number of specific crimes pertaining to the school for students’ information. Aliberti also stresses the public safety section on the website and wants students to be familiar with the sections on emergency preparedness and active shooter information.
There are tips for surviving an active shooter event that Public Safety prints out on cards for student reference. One tip is to find the escape routes and evacuate immediately. On the first floor in some campus stairwells, there are emergency exit doors leading outside. Students who familiarize themselves with those exit doors now will know where they are in the event of an emergency.
Another tip is to hide in a spot that is non-confining, out of the shooter’s view and is protected from shots fired. Once law enforcement arrives, it is important to remain calm and comply with instructions given and not to yell, scream or point. Also, it is suggested that students drop any items in their hands, keeping them visible at all times.
Maria LaFerriere, a business accounting major, said, “I think it’s something that can be prevented by creating tighter security and having drills so that people know how to react to it.”
Hudson Valley has never had an active shooter on campus or experienced any violence of that magnitude. According to Aliberti, Hudson Valley’s biggest weakness when it comes to security is just “petty crime.” This usually occurs when electronic devices or textbooks are left unattended and are stolen.
Aliberti wants to remind students to “use common sense when it comes to protecting their personal belongings.”