Emergency preparedness at SJCC at issue in lieu of shootings Active shooter threat at San Jose State University causes concern on campus.

Reginald Webb, Times Staff

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A threat was written in a women’s bathroom at San Jose State University on Feb. 28. An active shooter threat situation was put into effect. The threat was deemed not credible and classes continued throughout the day, including some with midterms. Others ignored the threat, including former SJCC student and current SJSU student Melissa Martinez who took a midterm in the building where the threat was located, “We received emails about the threat. I heard the threat was at 5 p.m. and it was 4 p.m. so I stayed,” Martinez said.

Copycats are expected following the event in Parkland on Feb. 14. The event prompted a national debate on guns and school safety which has once again been become a topic of conversation following the shooting at Santa Fe High School on May 18. Schools are reviewing and revising emergency protocols across the nation including SJSU.

San Jose City College has policies in place addressing this issue as well. Per the college website, District Police have posted the YouTube video link, “Run, Hide, Defend,” which details how students should respond to an active shooter situation. It focuses on the moments prior to the arrival of first responders providing do’s and don’ts as well as valuable tips toward surviving such an episode.

Along with campus police, SJCC is located across the west end of the street from Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and a fire department headquarters on its east. While the close proximity is an advantage for SJCC, Joy Alexiou, Public Information Officer for Santa Clara Valley Medical Center wrote, “At this time we have not conducted an exercise with San Jose City College.”

SJCC student and student trustee for the District Board, Joseph Heady, is willing to bring up concerns at a district meeting. Heady said he is focused more on prevention wanting to make sure resources are in place to identify potential issues with students who are struggling mentally or find themselves a victim of bullying or ridicule.

District Police Chief Thomas Morales credits an already existing behavioral intervention team on campus represented by a team made up of police, mental health, and academic achievement that identifies and assesses potential problems with students.

Last July, an incident in which a student came on campus with a taser and his vehicle off campus was found to have live ammunition. Although the threat was thwarted it raised staff concerns regarding the speed by which information became known about the suspect’s intentions and the restraining order established due to the suspects threat toward a teacher on campus.

SJCC librarian Robert Wing raised concerns during an Academic Senate meeting saying,” My main concern is the delay in getting the word out and not having the campus notified, especially the five-year restraining order. There was even a delay, I believe it was four days, for just the initial email to go out to campus under the heading ‘Timely Warning.”

Wing asserted it took too long for notification and it created a major liability to the college in the case of the college knowing information and not giving a timely heads up to staff concerning the restraining order.

Since these events happen prior to first responders or police being present, Heady wonders as many do, whether it is a good idea to let it be known that some on campus carry concealed weapons as a deterrence. In this instance the campus would no longer be a gun-free zone.

Chief Morales is firmly against this idea citing concerns about training and the difficulty in obtaining such a license in Santa Clara County. Morales is happy with the job officers are doing maintaining campus safety and has addressed some of the issues discussed by Wing as far as timely notification and private security. However, he believes more officers on campus going forward would provide both SJCC and Evergreen colleges with more safety.

As far as technology, Chief Morales stated there is a sufficient number of cameras strategically placed recording in real time to deal with an active shooter threat. This avoids the confusion that occurred during the Parkland shooting with regard to its video received by police there that recorded with a 20-minute delay creating confusion in locating the suspect.

Morales said these type of events happen in, “3 to 4 minutes,” before emergency personnel arrives. SJCC would be assisted in such a scenario by SJPD, County Sheriffs, and FBI, all of which have offices close by.