College and university leaders in Springfield take the possibility of an attack on their campus seriously, they said, and are prepared to combat any type of effort to hurt students.
An attack at Ohio State University on Monday morning injured nine students who were hit by a vehicle or cut and slashed with a butcher knife. Police shot and killed the suspect. A shelter-in-place order was lifted but classes were cancelled.
>>RELATED: OHIO STATE ATTACK: Who is the suspect?
Wittenberg University’s security standards are high, campus Police Division Chief Jim Hutchins said, and how to keep students safe is an ongoing conversation.
“We have a very nice plan that is detailed in the case of an active shooter,” Hutchins said. “We have worked on this and we will be working on it forever because things change.”
Wittenberg student Kathleen Jerdreski said she feels safe on campus and believes Wittenberg authorities go out of their way to make sure students aren’t in danger.
“I have walked home alone at night and I have felt fine,” Jerdreski said. “I have had situations where there might have been gunshots around campus, and a Witt cop saw my friend and I walking and offered to pick us up.”
>>READ MORE: Local, national reactions to Ohio State attack
The first step to making sure students feel safe is communication, Hutchins said. The Springfield university sends texts and emails to students when a crime or danger is in the area — regardless of whether it involves a student or not. He said this practice also prepares the campus police department in case of an active situation at the school.
“That’s the key, for students and staff to be informed,” Hutchins said.
The use of technology to inform Clark State Community College students during an emergency can be the difference between life and death, Risk Management Coordinator Tom Duffee said.
“We have technology to alert our staff and faculty and students in real time when an event is occurring,” he said.
Safety officials at both schools said their relationship with the Springfield Police Division is essential to keeping students safe in the case of an active shooter. Wittenberg and Springfield police trained almost all of the university’s faculty and staff members in a safety program that teaches how to remain calm and calculate every move in an active shooter situation.
The two police departments also train together for active emergencies on campus, Hutchins said.
“We are not going to do this by ourselves,” he said. “(SPD) will be there with us and we all have to work as a team. We train with them and that is very helpful.”
Clark State has a similar relationship with the local police, Duffee said. Over the summer, Clark State employees went through training put on by Clark State and Springfield authorities.
“This was a half day, six-hour training on active shooters that all of our full-time staff attended,” Duffee said.
Ohio State sent text messages to students and employees and Tweeted to alert any one on campus about the attack. The messages said, “Buckeye Alert: Active Shooter on campus. Run Hide Fight. Watts Hall. 19th and College.”
Duffee praised Ohio State’s response to Monday’s incident, and said Clark State follows the same motto Ohio State tweeted out during the event: run, hide, fight. It’s an active shooting protocol developed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
“That is our algorithm,” Duffee said. “We train staff and faculty. It is easy to say but it takes some forethought.”
Other colleges and universities in Southwest Ohio use similar guidelines when dealing with a dangerous situation.
According to the University of Dayton’s website, police there have also received specialized training to respond to violent attacks.
“Incidents of violence in workplaces, high schools, colleges and universities have elevated safety concerns to a level never before experienced in the United States,” according to a message on UD’s website.
University of Dayton Police have been trained to respond to active shooters or other violent attacks. The city of Dayton Police and other agencies would also be called to respond should such an incident occur on UD’s campus.
The main goal of police is to stop a shooter and they might not be able to immediately aid victims, says Wright State University’s website.
Staff Writer Chris Stewart contributed to this report.
The Springfield News-Sun offers unmatched coverage reporting on local education including stories digging into campus and school safety issues.