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Safety seminar prepares for school shootings

Andrew Zeiser, Contributing Writer

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The noise of screaming was so loud one of the professors stepped into the hallway to let students by Founders Hall 211 know everything was okay. In the classroom several students’ faces tightened as they watched the video in disbelief.

The video was a reenactment of the 1999 Columbine shooting. Surveillance videos and 911 recordings were used to recreate the actions of the shooters and victims. The video was part of a training course for Northern Kentucky University students on how to respond to a school or campus shooting.

Taught by NKU political science professor Cheryl Lero Jonson, the class is a part of a program called ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Control and Escape).
The goal is to change student mentality from traditional lockdown drills to a more heightened alertness and reaction. In traditional lockdowns the classroom door would be shut, the lights turned out and students would be sitting down along the wall near the door.

Jonson illustrated how the traditional lockdown drill would be ineffective in the event of a school shooting by having three students volunteers sit along the wall near the door while she played the role of the shooter. When she walked in she looked down and lightly tossed tennis balls onto the three students.

She then repeated the exercise, only this time she had the students standing so they could run when she came in the room, she tossed the three balls and came up with three misses.

What is happening is that they are trying to implement a lockdown in a real world setting and it’s not working, said Jonson.

On April 16, 2007 a school shooting took place at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg ,Va., that left 33 dead. The shooter Seung-Hui Cho shot a number of the students and professors in Norris Hall. Many of the students were shot along the walls and while they were laying on the ground taking cover under tables.

Jonson explained that a lockdown is not a bad idea. “The goal of this program is we’re going to equip students with options that work in real settings. What’s happening is when you have a real-world setting they’re doing lockdown and it’s not working,” said Jonson.

Jonson discussed the dynamics of shooting a target that is moving and what the chances are of a shooter being able to hit a moving target. Jonson also explained the importance of barricading the door in the event of a school shooting and how this action saved the lives of students at the Virginia Tech shooting.

“I thought it was very informative and I feel like a lot more students need to know about it because it is very, very important and I feel like people would panic if they don’t know what to do,” said NKU student Sarah Gross.

One of the biggest challenges that the program faces is that people don’t know about it and there are only two instructors at NKU, said Jonson.
Melissa Moon of the political science and criminal justice department is the second instructor with Jonson.
Moon said that she hopes ALICE becomes as common knowledge as fire drills.

Jonson said if any students or organizations would like the training they should contact her at jonsonc1@nku.edu or Moon at moonm@nku.edu.

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Safety seminar prepares for school shootings