USF University Police Chief Thomas Longo said what happened at Virginia Tech on Monday was inevitable.
“This has been on the minds of a lot of university police chiefs,” he said. “It’s been happening in high schools. It was only a matter of time before it happened on (a college) campus.”
Since the Columbine massacre, Longo said police forces are better suited to handle these situations, even though Virginia Tech’s police force has faced tough questions about its handling of Monday’s rampage.
Longo said USF police officers undergo ongoing active shooter intervention, training that simulates Columbine-like situations.
“In the summer of 2005, we took it a step further with active shooter simulation training, and we have additional training coming up in May,” said UP spokeswoman Meg Ross.
But Longo warned that all the training in the world still wouldn’t prevent shootings like this from happening.
“I wouldn’t say we’re totally prepared to handle something like this (at USF),” Longo said. “Because you can’t be totally prepared. You can only respond. What I do know is that our response is superior to pre-Columbine. People have problems, and sometimes they act out violently. We just have to be vigilant.”
USF President Judy Genshaft issued a statement through the USF Web site.
“The loss of life and casualties at this point are unprecedented in U.S. higher education history. We can only begin to imagine the shock and sadness the individuals associated with this event must be experiencing,” the statement read. “College campuses remain vulnerable, despite state-of-the-art security efforts, because they remain free and open places of discourse that preclude total control of movement on campus. We will use this tragic incident as an opportunity to revisit our own practices.”
Dean of Students Kevin Banks said the tragedy is a good opportunity for USF to re-evaluate its emergency procedures.
“It definitely will give reason for us to look at our own protocol just so we can fine-tune it a little bit and take advantage of the technology that is out there,” he said. “The good thing – well there really is no good thing – but being in Florida, we’re accustomed to preparing for hurricanes and so that kind of gives us at least a little more intense look at how we prepare for a disaster. And with some of those protocols, we can fine-tune them to make sure we can respond in the best way we can in the time of a tragedy.”
News Editor Suzanne Parkscontributed to this article.