Striving towards a safe campus

JACOB MADDEN, News Editor | [email protected]

There have been 144 school shootings in the U.S. since the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in 2012, according to a report by The Los Angeles Times. The Times classified a school shooting as an incident when a firearm was discharged inside a school building or on campus.

“You can’t say these incidents are rare, and they’re not,” said Lieutenant Joe Tyler of the UNI Police Division and director of the Violent Incident Defense Strategies program. “We’ve done [VIDS] the last several years, we’ve trained lots of people and we need to train more.”

VIDS is a free training program open to students, faculty and staff at UNI that aims to teach participants the skills needed to protect their safety in a violent situation. Tyler said the VIDS program does this by teaching the concepts of ALICE, a defense strategy that stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.

“We go through the whole gambit of: if something were to happen on campus, here are the things you need to think about,” said Tyler. “We talk about everything from the alert portion to evacuating to countering, which is the hands-on stuff.”

Tyler regularly referred to self-empowerment as a major aspect of ALICE.

“We really push on [people] that you need to think for yourself,” Tyler said. ALICE is intended as a supplemental tool to delay a violent incident until the UNI police can arrive, according to Tyler.

“We also go into the process of what you can expect from us,” Tyler said.

“One of the bad things about [teaching ALICE] is everyone wants a cookie cutter ‘this is what I’m supposed to do,’” Tyler said. “That isn’t always going to be the case with this.”

However, Tyler went on to say that ALICE is a program that is adaptable to each situation and teaches resourcefulness. The countering portion of ALICE covers ideas such as throwing whatever is near at the assailant.

“Don’t think of a belt as just a belt or a shoelace as something to keep your shoes on or the infinity scarves that a lot of the ladies wear; it doesn’t matter [what it is],” Tyler said.

ALICE also teaches participants how to find untraditional exits, such as windows, as an evacuation technique.

“We really stress the idea that something is better than nothing,” Tyler said. “The best part about this is that it isn’t just for UNI, you could be anywhere: the mall, you could be at the theatre, you could be anywhere, and this stuff is applicable in any environment.”

“I feel safe on campus, but I fear robbery most of any violence,” said Derrick Wright, freshman psychology major, expressing his safety concerns.

According to Tyler, it isn’t possible to be on high alert all the time, but it is important to be aware of your surroundings. Tyler concluded that although it is everyone’s responsibility to be as safe as possible, they have to take their safety into their own hands.