The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Opinion-Gunmen show training need

On April 20, 1999, 12 students and one teacher were killed along with 24 students who were injured in a school shooting that lasted 50 minutes at Columbine High School.

On April 16, 2007, 32 students died and 25 were injured in a two-hour attack at Virginia Tech.

On Sept. 28, a 19-year-old student opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle and then shot himself at a library at the University of Texas at Austin. Unlike the previous shootings, students, faculty and staff received text messages and social media updates through the university’s crisis management plan.

If any of the five campuses were involved in a school shooting, the TCC police department says it’s prepared for action.

Since 2007, the college’s police department has purchased equipment and has gone through extensive training to deal with any school shooting. Students can also get updates on their cell phones through WebAdvisor and CampusCruiser if they’ve signed up.

Some students may think all TCC police do is patrol the parking lots, hand out citations, pester students about their parking passes or stand and stare in the hallways impassively.

However, the department trains every two years for a situation similar to that of Virginia Tech and Austin. 

The district has also installed intercoms on each campus that can be activated to alert students.

Since the Virginia Tech attacks, more colleges have tried to expand their emergency alerts. A survey in May 2008 from the Midwestern Higher Education Compact found that before Virginia Tech, 5 percent of responding colleges said mobile phones were included in emergency notification. Little more than a year later, 75 percent of those without that capability had changed their systems or made plans to change them.

Besides police trying to become prepared for an active shooter, what else can TCC do to prevent extreme situations from occurring?

Perhaps TCC could have more mental health services available to students.

Seung Hui Cho was said to have severe mental illness before he took the lives of students at Virginia Tech. Columbine’s Eric Harris was prescribed an antidepressant medication commonly used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder. It’s not for certain if the 19-year-old shooter in Austin was mentally ill.

While there is no way to completely profile a potential shooter, psychological help can go a long way in preventing people from harming themselves and others.

It’s impressive that TCC’s police department says it is ready for whatever, whenever. But let’s hope police officers never have to use their training in an active shooter situation.

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