In the wake of a shooting at Virginia Tech University Monday morning that left 33 people dead, University Police and Columbus Division of Police officials said Ohio State is prepared to respond should a similar act occur here.
“Our first responders would immediately go in and stop the shooter,” said Columbus police Sgt. Kevin Corcoran.
Corcoran, the public information officer for the Columbus police, said in a situation with an active shooter, “usually we’ll go in to stop him because the lives are more important.”
Corcoran said Columbus police typically act at the request of OSU police, which has primary jurisdiction over campus.
“We have plans and practice with Columbus police and SWAT units,” said Rick Amweg, assistant chief of OSU police. “Ohio State has a special response team that works on these kinds of things. We have quick action deployment drills.”
He said OSU also has an emergency and disaster preparedness coordinator, Robert Armstrong, whose responsibility it is to make sure plans are in place for circumstances including terrorist attacks, tornadoes and school shootings.
“(Our response) depends entirely on the scenario,” Armstrong said. Students could be asked to “shelter in place” or to evacuate buildings, depending on the circumstances, he said.
OSU President Karen Holbrook said in a statement that she knows this kind of incident has the possibility of occurring on any campus.
“No one can fully prepare for something of this magnitude,” she said. “I want to assure you that the safety of our community is one of our highest priorities.”
Students could be notified how to react through various forms of communication, including an automated system in which the university could contact 50,000 people by telephone in 20 minutes, Armstrong said.
He also said contact between residence hall advisers and central university administrators could also prove a valuable method of communication should an emergency occur in the residence halls.
Although many steps can be taken by universities and law enforcement agencies, Armstrong said students can also play an important role in making sure emergency situations are properly handled.
“This can happen absolutely anywhere. It could take place here,” Armstrong said. “We do our best to train for it, to plan for it. We do whatever we can to prevent it where possible, but students need to be aware, to pay attention.”
Tim Hoffine can be reached at [email protected].