The Drexel University Police Department will have one of its several yearly “active-shooter” training sessions Jan. 29 in New Jersey. Five new DUPD recruits will undergo a full day of classroom and scenario training to learn what to do if an active shooter opens fire on Drexel’s campus. Given the recent events at Sandy Hook Elementary School, we at The Triangle feel much safer knowing that all Drexel Police officers are required to take this training. But we also wonder why not all college police departments require their officers to be active-shooter trained.
We recently had the opportunity to talk with Lt. David Caristo, a Drexel Police officer and one of two Drexel officers certified by the National Tactical Officers Association to instruct active-shooter training. He explained to us that DUPD officers, both new recruits and seasoned veterans, have been consistently getting active-shooter trained for the past few years. DUPD pairs with the University of Pennsylvania Police Department, SEPTA Police Department and Philadelphia Police Department to ensure that all responding police officers to Drexel crises are active-shooter trained.
Caristo explained how the Columbine tragedy in 1999 sparked law enforcement agencies to devise a new plan for active-shooter cases. Before Columbine, officers would set up a perimeter and call in a special team to eliminate the active shooter. This wastes time, which is precious in active-shooter situations, especially in a school environment when there are many people around. The new active-shooter training teaches first-responding police officers how to go straight for the shooter and effectively eliminate the threat.
All Drexel Police officers are trained for active-shooter situations as new recruits and are required to attend training sessions throughout the year. In spring 2013, Drexel will host an active-shooter training session where students and faculty are invited to come and take part in simulations. Officers from the UPenn Police Department, SEPTA Police Department and Philadelphia Police department will also be at the training session. We encourage students and faculty to take advantage of this invaluable opportunity. Students and faculty will be helping DUPD to better know what to do should an active shooter open fire on campus, and they will also learn what they should do in such an event. Public knowledge like this could help police officers eliminate the threat faster and save several lives.
The Editorial Board is grateful that DUPD requires its officers to get trained, but we are also curious as to why other American college police departments don’t. Gun control has been the source of heated debate in our country over the past month, and it could take many more months or years for legislative action to occur. In the meantime, we think a law should be passed requiring all college law enforcement and public safety officers to be required to take active-shooter training.
There is a reason why Drexel Public Safety is ranked third nationwide. The officers’ commitment to active-shooter training is just another justification as to why they deserve that spot.