BUPD outlines strategies to keep Baylor safe in wake of Michigan State shooting

Baylor students worry about their safety in light of the Michigan State shooting on Feb. 13, but the Baylor Police Department said they are trying their best to keep the community safe. Photo illustration by Grace Everett | Photographer

By Luke Lattanzi | Staff Writer

The Baylor Police Department reassures the Baylor community it is prepared to respond to on-campus threats in the wake of the Michigan State shooting where three students were killed and five more were wounded.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been upwards of 80 mass shootings since the start of 2023. The Gun Violence Archive defines mass shootings as an incident in which four or more victims are shot or killed.

Over the summer of 2022, BUPD completed two training exercises as part of their annual preparation in the case of an on-campus threat. On May 25, an exercise was held in and around Kokernot Hall with nine other local and federal law enforcement agencies.

A continuation of that training was held on Aug. 11 at and around the Ferrell Center. The Waco Fire Department, American Medical Response, Air Evac, AirLift and Baylor Scott and White Medical Center-Hillcrest also participated.

“That never stops, we’re always planning and preparing,” Don Rodman, Baylor assistant chief of police, said. “We just had our first exercise design meeting just last week to talk about what we’re doing for our next one.”

Rodman said Baylor police is always evaluating how it can better prepare for and stop on-campus threats, such as active shooting situations, should one ever arise.

“We are always in a state of hyper-vigilance — trying to plan, trying to prepare and then learn,” Rodman said. “There’s these incidents that are happening pretty regularly unfortunately, but we can take pieces of those and we can apply them to our future learning situations so that we’re better prepared to deal with a response.”

Rodman also said BUPD is committed to ensuring such incidents don’t occur in the first place.

“We have over 400 building emergency coordinators; those are our eyes and ears in every single building that we have on campus. In addition to that we have 1,600 cameras that again, we’re utilizing to be able make sure that we have eyes and ears all throughout campus,” Rodman said.

He also said BUPD’s on-campus threat prevention measures also extend to popular campus events that may yield opportunities for anyone planning an attack.

“If you’ve been to a basketball game or a large event here on campus you’re going to notice that there’s metal detectors, and that’s something we’ve incorporated as part of this college threat model,” Rodman said. “If you’re attending Sing, you’re going to notice that those are put in place to prevent any type of potential attack and allow people to feel more comfortable when attending, particularly when these instances are kind of popping up all across the nation.”

Sammamish, Wash., sophomore Jazmine Olsen said even though mass shootings can happen anywhere, she still feels safe due to BUPD’s sizable presence on campus.

“It’s always going to be a possibility, unfortunately, but I’ve never felt unsafe here,” Olsen said. “We have a lot of different safety measures and I always see [police officers] on campus. I like seeing them here, it makes me feel a little better.”

Olsen also said she supports gun ownership, but is in favor of moderate restrictions to help prevent mass shootings such as background checks and instruction on proper gun ownership.

“I do believe in the Second Amendment, I do believe we should have guns, but I think there should be more regulations on it,” Olsen said. “If you want to buy a gun you should take a class; that way, if you’re mentally unstable or if you have a vendetta, that will be more easily seen than if you just walk in and get a gun.”

Rodman said in an active shooter situation, students, staff members and faculty should always follow what Baylor police calls “Avoid. Deny. Defend.

“You want to avoid any potential interaction with that potential threat,” Rodman said. “The denying is in the event that you can’t leave that building or classroom, you want to definitely try to deny entry by locking a door, putting a belt strap around the hinge to prevent it from opening, covering windows or anything that you can utilize to prevent an individual from entering.”

Rodman also said the worst case scenario in an active shooter situation is having to defend yourself, which should always be used as a last resort.

“If that individual is able to make entry into your space, there’s strength in numbers,” Rodman said. “You want to gather whoever’s there and overcome that individual. Part of our training is to actually demonstrate how one person can be quickly overwhelmed by three or four or five [people], it quickly overwhelms [a shooter].”

Rodman also emphasized the importance of the BU Campus Guardian app, which contains a whole host of safety features, such as being able to instantly alert law enforcement of your exact location.