Illinois State University Police Chief Aaron Woodruff meets with officers, from left, Jessika Jones, Shuntua Stonewall and Bob Malone. The ISU PD has 29 sworn officers on its force, which was officially created 61 years ago. 

With recent school shootings impacting the nation, Illinois State University’s Police Department is prepared in the event that a similar tragedy could occur on campus.

“Every situation is different and what you won’t hear from public safety is that you have to do this, this or this,” ISU’s Chief of Police Aaron Woodruff said. “The current national best practice and what we emphasize in the emergency response guide is run, hide and fight. If you can get out of that situation then that’s your first and best option.”

“If for some reason running away would get you in the path of danger or a higher risk of danger, the next step is to hide or find a room that you can barricade yourself in,” he added.

Woodruff explained that schools were not designed as environments to prevent these types of situations from occurring.

“The very nature of how they’re constructed shows that there’s no perfect layouts and that one room can be completely different from another,” he said. “You always want to keep an open mind of other ways to escape or ways you can secure these rooms.”

“The ISU police emergency response time is less than five minutes, as there are at least two officers on campus,” he added. “Campus police are in direct communication with other local law enforcement agencies, so we will get a lot of police resources in a short amount of time.”

Krista Yee, senior recreation and parks administration major, said she works with groups of children.

“I can accurately say I would not be a runner,” Yee said. “My first reaction would be to identify where the shooting is happening and which direction it seems to be going. If I believe that the shooter is far enough away and walking in the opposite direction, I would call 911 while trying to find an escape plan.

“If the shooter is heading toward me, then I would quickly get everyone hidden and as safe as I can, while putting myself in a good position to stun and take the gun away from the shooter,” she added.

Woodruff said the prevention part of these incidents tends to get lost and he encourages those who have concerns about someone who has changes in their behavior to get that individual help.

“That’s where the failure in the system happens,” Woodruff said. “Once it happens it’s already too late. We want to focus on preventing these incidents from happening in the first place.

“All too often, the media focuses on the response and not the prevention. Step one is prevention, step two is preparedness and the last step is response. If you could prevent yourself from getting a heart attack you would do that first,” he added.

The ISU PD trains with local law enforcement agencies in active shooter drills and offers campus community drills and optional training for faculty and staff.

Last fall, campus police provided a three-hour training program “Run, Hide and Fight,” which offers hands-on training that involves staff and students, as the program gives those involved the ability to practice school shooting situations.

“It’s one thing to watch a video and another to actually play out the scenario,” Woodruff said. “The one word we get from these people after they have participated is ‘empowered.’”

ANDREW DOUGHERTY is a senior news reporter for The Vidette. Contact him at vidette_addough@ilstu.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @addough

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