CMU police say escaping is first priority in case of active shooter on campus


Following a Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that left 17 people dead, a national conversation about the protocol for dealing with school shootings was sparked across the U.S.

Central Michigan University’s CARE Team is an on-campus group with representatives from several departments that deal with the health and well-being and academic success of students. Within the team are CARE reports — confidential concerns reviewed by the CMU Police Department, including violence.

CMUPD Lt. Larry Klaus said police immediately respond to a location once an emergency is reported.

“We’re pleased to see people are reporting to the police,” Klaus said.

Faculty, staff and students are automatically subscribed to Everbridge — a mass communication system, Klaus said. The community receives notice of acts of violence on campus via Central Alerts.

CMU police are trained to stop acts of violence, Klaus said. The No. 1 thing to do in an active shooter situation is to get away. 

“If you can’t get out, hide or lock the door to bypass the location,” Klaus said.

On the CMU website is a video titled “Shots Fired” that details what to do in the case of a shooting. The 20-minute video is available to view under “Training & Exercises” on the Emergency Management page.

CMU police works closely with the Risk Management, Environmental Health & Safety office to prevent acts of violence. 

The university uses a Miami (Ohio) University guide about responding to an active shooter on campus. It is available in a section titled “Crisis Information.”

The guide defines an active shooter as a “person who appears to be actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.” In most cases, the active shooter does not have a pattern or method of selecting victims, the guide states, and most likely are using a firearm.

If an active shooter is outside the building faculty, students and staff are in, the guide advises to go to a room that can be locked, close and lock the windows and doors and turn off the lights. Students, faculty and staff are advised to get down on the floor. One person in the room should call 911, the guide states, and people should remain in place until police or a campus administrator gives an “all clear.” It also states people should not respond to unfamiliar voices. 

If the shooter is inside the building, the guide states to lock the door if it can be locked. If not, find safety or see if you can safely exit the building. 

If the active shooter enters an office or classroom, the guide recommends to remain calm. If possible, 911 should be dialed to alert police to the shooter’s location. If nobody can speak, then the line should be left open for dispatch to hear what’s going on. The guide states if there’s no opportunities to escape, then negotiating with the shooter is the next option, with overpowering the shooter with force as a last resort. If the shooter leaves, flee the area.

The guide states to have an escape plan in route and to cooperate with police in any situation.

Police officers' emergency training has not been applied to real life situations of late. In 2013, an Isabella County man, Eric Lee Ramsey, 30, abducted a Grand Rapids-area student at gunpoint outside the Student Activity Center. Ramsey was killed by police in Crawford County and the student was aided by a family in a home on South Mission Street.

In his seven years at the CMUPD, Klaus said that instance was the last significant gun threat on-campus.

“It’s a safe community,” Klaus said. “It’s a safe campus.”


About Evan Sasiela

Evan Sasiela is the University Editor at Central Michigan Life and a senior at Central Michigan ...

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