In light of tomorrow’s planned test of the UCSB Alert system, local law enforcement officials are insisting they are prepared for any emergency.
In the aftermath of the South Hall scare several weeks ago — wherein a student reportedly berated passersby with the threat of a gun — greater attention has been given to the campus’ emergency preparedness. And while the South Hall incident ended peacefully, the UCSB Police Dept. and its counterparts in the county say they are adequately prepared, should violence erupt on campus.
The Isla Vista Foot Patrol and UCSB’s Police Dept. said they plan in advance for incidents of this nature. UCPD Capt. Mike Foster said his department prepares for potentially armed conflicts — such as recent tragedies like the Virginia Tech shootings — on a regular basis. In the case of an active gunman, he said, officers would immediately zone in on the calamity.
“We have trained all of our personnel on an active-shooter situation,” Foster said. “[First responders] are going to go in and try to apprehend or neutralize the shooter.”
Should a shooter be identified, UCPD would have backup from other local authorities, including the IVFP and the SB County Sheriff’s Dept., Foster said.
“The mutual aid works pretty well between the Sheriff’s Dept. and the university police, because we work so well together,” Lt. Brian Olmstead of the IVFP said. “It’s like one department in itself.”
To caution students in the case of a gun terror, Olmstead said, local dispatchers would also notify students via the UCSB Alert system, which sends e-mail and text-message notifications. That system has come under fire after the South Hall incident, but officials say Friday’s test should help to iron out any problems they encountered.
While a structured response is in place, should a situation with a gunman arise on campus, Olmstead said, local authorities are always considering new contingencies and eventualities.
“Law enforcement is always evolving,” Olmstead said. “Every incident we have, law enforcement will look at the incident and say, what happened, what did the suspect do, what did we do wrong and what did we do right? Even Halloween — we’ll evaluate our Halloween operations and we’ll evaluate that.”
The recent incident at South Hall notwithstanding, students are fairly calm. And while recent school shootings have given her quite a scare, first-year psychology major Liliana Salacar said things seem stable at UCSB.
“It’s kind of scary when you hear about things like Virginia Tech, but I feel pretty safe,” Salacar said.
Although the South Hall incident ended peacefully, law enforcement officials are confident the community is in good hands if a similar situation turns violent.
“California law enforcement is top-notch,” Olmstead said. “When the call does go out, I’m confident that all the people that work for Isla Vista Foot Patrol and the people in Goleta and campus police are the best cops in this area, and they’re really dedicated to protecting everyone.”