Yesterday afternoon, the UCSB Police Department held a seminar in Campbell Hall advising students, faculty and staff on the proper way to respond to active shooting and hostage situations on campus.

The Active Shooting Seminar, which was directed by Detective Rory Sheehey and Officer Greg Smorodinsky of the UCPD, consisted of safety videos and a PowerPoint presentation, followed by a Q&A session. While these seminars are held annually on a smaller scale, the department chose to host the event at a larger venue this year in order to reach a wider audience on campus.

UCPD Sergeant Rob Romero said the active shooter seminar aimed to educate the campus community in response tactics.

“The main goal we hoped to accomplish with the seminar was to show people how they can help themselves,” Romero said. “What we want to do is get as much information out to our community as possible because knowledge is power.”

UCPD has given presentations of this nature for the past three years. With yesterday’s seminar, the officers and university aimed to inform students, faculty and staff on how to effectively seek protection, Romero said.

“We’re hoping we can fill Campbell Hall the best that we can,” Romero said. “Our goal is to make people aware.”

The first video in the seminar, which was created by the Center for Personal Protection and Safety, explained how to develop a survival mindset in order to help victims escape an active shooting situation unharmed. The second video focused on the three steps to take if involved in an active shooting situation — run, hide and fight — and was developed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

UCPD currently utilizes a range of methods for keeping the community alert to potential danger on campus and within the community including the Emergency Alerts, delivered by text and email, and the new on-campus speaker system. Smorodinsky said alerting the authorities in the event of an emergency, especially if an active shooter is involved, is crucial to containing the situation.

“Please call us,” Smorodinsky said. “We would rather show up a hundred times and it being nothing than that one time where it was something and nobody called. The best thing you can do is make the right decision. The second best thing you can do is make the wrong decision. The absolute worst decision you can make is to do nothing at all.”

According to Sheehey, properly responding to an active shooter or hostage situation is difficult because it oftentimes involves responding to an unstable suspect’s erratic behavior.

“Unfortunately, we are trying to predict unpredictable behavior,” Sheehey said. “There’s no A-Z exact survival method that is guaranteed to work. We don’t know who is going to be an active shooter, and there’s no way to predict it.”

Romero said UCPD is willing to repeat the presentation for any departments or offices that are interested.

“People can reach out to us,” Romero said. “We can give a specific presentation to their office or department and give them a specific safety assessment for their designated area.”

Students are encouraged to get in contact with the campus police department at (805) 893-3446, call 9-1-1 or talk to an RA or counselors for guidance if they feel that they are in danger.


A version of this article appeared on page 3 of March 6th, 2013’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.