Monday, April 16, 2007

Makes no sense

The police response to the shooting at Virginia Tech makes no sense. (See an article on that response here.)

Why would they assume that the shooting in a dorm at about 7:15 was a completely isolated incident that did not require warning the rest of the campus? How could they have any confidence, as they seemed to, that the shooter had left campus? Why, without a suspect and only mere minutes of investigation, did they decide the shooting was 'domestic' and tell no one on campus- except those who lived in the dorm itself?

These decisions especially make no sense since some tentative warning went out- a mass email- two hours later. Ironically, this warning went out just minutes before the far deadlier shooting episode.

"I'll say on the record I'm outraged that someone died in a shooting in a dorm at 7 in the morning. The first e-mail about it, no mention of locking down campus, no mention of canceled classes, they just mention they're investigating a shooting a few hours later at 9:26," said student Jason Piatt. (Warning e-mails to students)

"Meanwhile, while they sent out that e-mail, [more] people got killed."

What if they had sent out warnings and shut down campus immediately after the 7:15 shootings? Would more than 30 lives have been saved? We can't know for sure, but certainly a campus 'lock-down' would have been the prudent move.

I know it's easy to 'Monday Morning Quarterback' on an issue like this. But the assumptions of the first responders make no sense in light of the fact that we have had so many mass/random shooting episodes in our country.

As a high school teacher, I've seen first hand the changes in policy that K-12 institutions have made to deal with a 'school shooter' threat.

Colleges- and the police that deal with them- need to re-examine their policies and catch up.

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