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Jan. 25, 2012 Volume 33, No. 17

Mizzou police have systems, programs to help keep you safe


Safety programs for students, staff and faculty

In spring 2007, the Virginia Tech University campus was a war zone as the gun-wielding English major Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people before taking his own life.

The aftermath of the Virginia Tech shooting caused many colleges and universities nationwide to prepare and teach staff, faculty and students on what to do if a shooter overtook the campus, a bomb threat occured or some other dangerous situation unfolded.

In August 2007, MU put into place its emergency mass notification system, which alerts people by email, text message and MU Alert of a campus threat or unusual situation. Last December, the MU Police Department sent the emailed emergency notification to students, faculty and staff to ask them to avoid University Avenue Garage, where a man had apparently committed suicide that morning.

“The incident at Virginia Tech made people start looking at increasing communication efforts to get valuable information out to the community,” said MUPD Sgt. April Colvin.

Colvin encourages everyone on campus to enroll in the university’s emergency mass notification system in order to get emergency voice and text messages on their cell phones or through their campus email account. 

“Because many active shooter incidents are over before law enforcement arrives, individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation,” Colvin said.

But don’t expect the information always to be instantaneous. “Sometimes it is going to take awhile to get the information out until we can determine what is actually occurring,” she said.

Handling an immediate threat

But what if someone is trying to break through your door? In other words, what if the threat is immediate?

First call 9-1-1 if you can, Colvin said. But if the intruder is about to attack, you might want to take action.

“The dynamics of an active threat situation are different from a robbery or hostage situation,” Colvin said. “In active threat situations, all they want is to take people’s lives. In those situations, you have to assume that if they come through the door, they are going to kill you.

“When you are faced with the decision to hide or die, or fight and possibly live,” she continued, “it is an easy answer in my book as to which one I am going to do. If I am fighting, I have a better chance of surviving the incident.”

Throw everything you can at the intruder, including cell phones and books, Colvin said. “Move in on them while you are throwing things and use your body weight to drop with them to the floor so you can bind up their head, arms and legs,” Colvin said.

Be aware of surroundings

Colvin advises the campus community to be aware of what is going on around them.

“Most of us work in offices with routines set in motion,” she said. “You become familiar with what is unusual in your area. When you see things that are unusual, do not be afraid to report it to the police department immediately so we can do something about it. A lot of times you can head things off at the pass if you pay attention to what is going on around you.”

Citizens’ Response to Active Threat


For hands-on experience in reacting and responding to violent intruders, students, faculty and staff can enroll in MUPD’s free class called Citizens’ Response to Active Threat Incidents. The four-hour class is offered monthly 5:30–9:30 p.m. at MUPD, 901 Virginia Ave.

In the class, instructors talk in-depth about lessons learned from the April 20, 1999, Columbine (Colo.) High School shooting and the April 16, 2007, Virginia Tech shooting.

Enroll online or call April Colvin at 882-5925.