December 30, 2015
MARSHALL NEWS MESSENGER (12/22/15) - East Texas Baptist University and Marshall Police have teamed up to offer specialized training in the event of an active shooter scenario on campus.
The university donated $2,000 on Monday to the Marshall police for purchase of force on force training marking weapons. The weapons look similar to a gun and shoot plastic tipped ammunition that leave a mark on the target after making contact.
Given recent mass shootings across the U.S. and abroad, usually in crowded, public areas where weapons are prohibited, police and campus personnel want to ensure that first responders and the public are prepared.
"Chief Campa and I have become great friends and we work together as partners to ensure the safety of our campus community, as well as the city of Marshall," ETBU President Blair Blackburn said. "We are working in partnership with Marshall police to ensure that we are well trained and prepared to respond to an active shooter situation."
Blackburn said he is taking a page out of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan's book when it comes to campus safety.
"In the words of Ronald Reagan - 'peace through strength'," Blackburn said. "He (Reagan) built up defense and through that came strength for our nation and through that came peace. That's what we're doing. Certainly, as a Christian institution, we pray that God's hand keeps our students, faculty and staff safe but we have to be wise stewards of our institution and our people so we are doing whatever it takes to be prepared."
The active shooter training will be held on the ETBU campus at an unspecified date, but Blackburn and Campa said the community and the campus will be given notice so they will be aware of the simulation.
Campa agreed that preparedness is key in any active shooter scenario.
"It's been unfortunate that we've had a lot of active shooter situations going on around the country," Campa said. "One of the things we want to do is make sure we are prepared and ready to handle any type of situation that may arise. ETBU is one of the largest universities in this area and we already have partnered up to do the security here on campus and we are going to buy these force on force weapons to do this very realistic training as well."
Campa said the simulation will be good for officers and students alike.
"We want, not only our officers to be ready and able to handle that type of situation, but the students also will be able to be role players in these scenarios," Campa said. "The force on force weapons make a popping sound and actually sound like real weapons. They fire off a projectile that will hit the suspect or the officer with a little bit of impact and it makes a mark on them so they know they've been hit. This just adds to the real life situation that hopefully will never have to happen, but if it does, our officers will know exactly the situation that they are in and how best to respond. The more realistic that training is, the more prepared that officer is going to be to handle that situation."
Blackburn said the university's students enrolled in the law enforcement training academy and the criminal justice program will be invited to participate.
"We're thankful we have a law enforcement academy program here so we will be inviting some of those students to be involved and participate as role players," Blackburn said. "We have gone through table top scenarios with our students and faculty and staff. We have training videos with direct instructions on how they should respond in an active shooter situation. This is taking it from the table top to actual, simulated, real life experience."
Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Joe Hall said the simulation is ideal for those considering a career in law enforcement.
"This is a good way to demonstrate some of the stress and gives the opportunity to realize there will be multiple things going on at the same time," Hall said. "It will help them to get a picture, the best we can do, to prepare for the real thing. The simulations can be very helpful."
Hall said he feels active shooter simulations and training for the general public and law enforcement has risen in the past couple of decades.
"There is more emphasis now on active shooter training," Hall said. "There's just more need for awareness, whether it's law enforcement or the general public."
Blackburn and Campa said they also want it known that the Marshall police, community and ETBU is prepared.
"We want to send the message that ETBU and the Marshall police are prepared," Campa said. "We want to send the message that this is not a soft target. We also want to let the community know we're doing everything we can."
(Used by permission www.marshallnewsmessenger.com, story by MNM reporter Bridget Ortigo)