by CAROLINE McCARTHY & KELLY KENNEDY, Staff Writers
For students across America, school is back in action. While this is an exciting time, the threat of gun violence in schools looms in the back of many students’ minds, especially when a new public service announcement by the Sandy Hook Promise organization, “Back to School Essentials” has recently gone viral online.
No school is immune to active shooter violence; this includes Manhattan College. In order to prepare students for this possible threat, the Office of Public Safety invited the NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau to host a presentation on active shooter incidents for staff and students on Sept. 18.
This presentation was an optional forum with the goal to educate and prepare the Manhattan College community in case an active shooter ever came to attack the campus.
Lieutenant David Kalin from the NYPD Counter-Terrorism Bureau and the School Safety Division led the presentation on how students and faculty can prevent mass school shootings. Their main focus was on knowing the warning signs of a potential attacker.
“Sometimes the media makes it a little bigger than it is, in a sense. We don’t want to get people scared. The chance that you’ll be in an active shooter situation is very slim,” explains Lt. Kalin.
Reportedly, only 18 percent of school shootings per year are actually considered active shooter incidents. According to. Kalin, the majority of reports are misfires, police entering school properties, suicides or a personalized attack.
In order to be labeled as an active shooting, there must be four people wounded and two deceased.
Public Safety and the NYPD’s goal is to stop a true active shooter incident before it occurs. To do so, students and faculty must be able to recognize the signs.
These behavioral indicators consist of the suspect bragging about owning weapons, being a victim of bullying, verbalizing their plans to other students, displaying an interest in other violent events, obsession with video games involving violence, and posting on social media about the attack.
“We are in our own world. We don’t have time to notice what’s going on in other people’s lives. But when we do notice something, we have to tell someone. We don’t want to be remiss that we didn’t,” said Kalin.
Peter DeCaro, Director of Public Safety, addressed that simply having the knowledge to recognize and report signs of a distressed individual does not eradicate the threat of an active shooter.
“Everyone at Manhattan College should be familiar with emergency protocols on Campus. This information can help you stay safe and is contained in the Manhattan College Emergency Response Guide, which can be found on the Public Safety webpage,” said DeCaro.
DeCaro also urges all students, faculty, and staff to enroll in e2Campus, the college’s emergency alert notification system. If an incident were to occur on campus, an alert would be sent to all those signed up for the service.
A concern for many students was how few people actually attended the presentation last Wednesday.
“One thing I noticed upon arriving for the presentation was the great lack of students. Going to a presentation like this can only benefit you and make you more prepared in the future if an event like this were to occur. There could be times where it is a life or death situation, so making sure you are prepared to do anything to survive is very important and that comes down to you,” said freshman Gabriel Gojcaj.
The Manhattan College Protocol for active shooter incidents was explained in detail at the presentation. The college recommends that all students become familiar with the protocol in order to keep the campus safe. Information regarding the protocol can be found in the Manhattan College Emergency Response Guide on the Public Safety webpage.
If anyone sees any activity or suspicious behavior on campus they should report it immediately to Public Safety at (718) 862-7333. Additionally, if any student is at risk of hurting themselves or others, they should contact the Manhattan College Counseling Center.
“The Manhattan College community is a caring one, and anyone can make a difference by remaining alert to signs that someone is in need of help. Be alert to concerning behavior or
indicators by others” says Decaro.