CSUSM Police chief plans to expand shooter training for campus safety

Stephany Mejia and Jadan Smithers

What if an active shooter appeared on this campus? “If we’re hearing gunshots, we are not stopping to help victims, we are not stopping to talk to people, we are actively moving toward that threat until we can address the threat. So it is an immediate action response,” said University Chief of Police Scott Ybarrondo.

Ybarrondo and the University Police Department (UPD) are working on introducing more active shooter training for faculty, staff and students.

The chief said this will include continuous safe-room and lock-down procedure training for professors and staff.
Active shooter training must be ongoing because it is a “perishable skill,” which means it diminishes over time, Ybarrondo said.

Ybarrondo said an active shooter training video created by the Chancellor’s Office will soon be made available to students on the UPD’s website. This video will also be shown at student, faculty and employee orientations and training’s.

Chief Ybarrondo said, “When an emergency situation happens people do one of three things…if there’s danger right in front of them they either get out of there or they fight, but the other thing we see is people freeze. And the way to get them past that is training.”

In an active shooter situation, Ybarrondo said, if it’s unclear where the gunfire is coming from, “you need to run. You need to get away from that gunfire.”

However, if gunfire is in a separate area of campus the best action to take is to find a safe room and lock down, he said. Ybarrondo also emphasized that the current mind-set around shootings needs to change.

“When it happens, people don’t believe it’s happening. It shouldn’t be ‘those are probably firecrackers’…you should think ‘it’s probably gunfire’ and get out,” Ybarrondo said, “It’s sad that we have to change that mindset, it really is, but we do.”

Ybarrondo said if there is a shooter on campus, UPD can press an emergency button alerting the campus through the desktop screens, emails, text messages, phone calls and the campus PA system.

All doors requiring a key card to open will also be  locked when the button is pushed.

An Office of Communications press release stated that this emergency alert system was used on Aug. 20, 2014 when there was a report of a man on campus with a weapon. The campus was placed on lockdown for approximately 45 minutes and notifications were sent to everyone affiliated with the university along with a description of the suspect.

The suspect turned out to be a staff member carrying an umbrella. When asked if he advocates for permitting professors to carry concealed weapons on campus, Ybarrondo said, “If it’s decided to arm additional people, I would really just propose that they are adequately trained and continue to be trained.”

“My concern always is are they trained enough in a life and death situation,” Ybarrondo said.

Ybarrondo said that while he has the authority to allow concealed weapon permits on campus, there are currently none.

“I want people to feel safe. I also want people to have confidence in my department, local law enforcement. I also want people to have confidence in themselves, what they can do,” Ybarrondo said.

To read more about CSUSM firearm, weapon and destructive devices policies visit https://www.csusm.edu/policies/active/ documents/firearms_weapons_or_destructive_devices.html.