University Police (UP) held an active shooter response training exercise on campus Friday. The exercise consisted of three scenarios housed in the Life Sciences Building and ran from 6 pA.m. to 9 p.m.
UP spokeswoman Lt. Meg Ross said the exercise provided the opportunity for officers to train in a realistic situation involving an actual shooter, similar to the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings.
Ross said officers from USF Tampa and St. Petersburg police departments were involved in the training exercise. Two officers from the Temple Terrace Police Department acted as the shooters.
The officers used airsoft and blank ammunition during the exercise to simulate gunfire.
The exercise involved more than 40 volunteers, including criminology students, Hillsborough Community College theater students, and UP personnel acting as role players.
Ross said the volunteers wore eye protection and bulletproof vests provided by SAAB Enterprises. The vests recorded where the victims were hit with airsoft pellets and identified the injuries that would have been caused had they been hit with real
The scenarios were very realistic, Ross said. If one of the role players or officers were “injured” during the exercise, he or she had to continue the scenario with that injury, and if anyone was “fatally wounded,” the group had to move on without that person.
In each scenario, four teams of three or four officers were sent into the Life Sciences Building.
A safety officer went with each group into the building to ensure the safety of the officers and role players.
Faculty and staff were informed beforehand that the training would take place. UP and AlliedBarton Security checked the building and surrounding area to make sure it was clear of students and faculty members not involved in the exercise.
UP also set perimeters around the building so that those not involved could not enter.
If there had been a real shooter on campus the perimeters would have extended much farther, Ross said.
During the first scenario, it took an extended amount of time to send officers into the building because the exercise was purposely started before the officers were ready, Ross said. The second and third scenarios went more quickly.
Ross said UP learns from each mistake that occurs during a scenario and uses the experience to prepare for an emergency event.
Kathryn Armstrong, a senior majoring in art history, said UP is spending time and effort on the reaction to, rather than the prevention of, such situations.
“The school should spend equal time being proactive,” she said. “Columbine and Virginia Tech were caused by students. Student counseling and similar measures can prevent things like this from happening.”
Armstrong said she would like to see more security on campus.
“I would like more alarms and security devices on campus,” she said. “It would make people feel safer.”
Valerie Robinson, a senior majoring in communications, said certain measures can be taken to try and prevent situations, but there is nothing anyone can do to stop them.
Robinson said she remembers being in class when a MoBull alert informed students that an alleged gunman was seen in Greek Village on June 11.
“I didn’t know how serious it was, but everyone was pretty scared,” she said.
Ross said the active shooter response training is difficult to coordinate because it is such a large-scale exercise, and UP is only able to plan it about once a year.
“The exercise was very successful despite the (rain),” she said.