Illinois State Trooper Jason Wilson began training for violent intruder procedures in October, 2012. Two months later, 26 lives were taken by a single gunman at the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.
“That really seemed to touch off this type of training,” Wilson said. After Sandy Hook, a movement began to train everyone from preschool to college age about what actions to take in the event of a violent intruder.
Last spring, Knox joined that movement and hosted a presentation by Wilson called Active Shooter Civilian Response.
Wilson was brought to Knox by Director of Government and Community Relations Karrie Heartlein and Disaster Corps, a new club at Knox dedicated to preparing the student body for emergencies.
President of Disaster Corps Jasmine Artis remembers the event as a success that garnered lots of student interest and a high turnout. The sophomore attributes this to the relevancy of the issue to college students. “Periodically there are incidents throughout the U.S. when someone will come and shoot up the school,” Artis said. “We felt it would be important for students to know how to react to that in a manner that would help alleviate the issue to a certain degree.”
Workshops aren’t the only steps being taken to keep the Knox community safe.
Over the summer, an email from Campus Safety officer Dan Robinson was sent to the campus bulletin about the the new and updated emergency procedures of Knox College.
The purple and yellow document lists recommended actions for multiple emergencies, one of which may have caught the reader’s attention more quickly than the others.
At the bottom lefthand corner is a box titled “ACTIVE SHOOTER” in all caps.
Robinson, who contributed to the creation of this document, said the phrase was new to the document, which was updated from the previous procedures.
“Everybody understands what an active shooter is,” Robinson said. “So we gave everybody what we thought would be useful advice.”
Many people on campus including other Campus Safety employees, senior staff, and the communications office were involved in the making of the document.
Knox’s new response guidelines in an active shooter scenario advises students to lock doors, barricade rooms and silence electronic devices, among other precautions. Upon reviewing Knox’s new guidelines, Wilson found it to be similar to what he teaches and consistent with the national movement on these issues.
“It’s unfortunate that this has become something that we need to train nearly every individual in the country,” said Wilson, who wants people to understand that “they can react and act to a situation like this with a good solid plan that doesn’t include sitting in the corner and hoping for the police officers to show up.”
According to the FBI, 66.9 percent of active shooter attacks between 2000 and 2013 ended before the police arrived on the scene.
At Robinson’s request, Wilson is currently scheduled to return to Knox this October to give the same presentation again on responding to an active shooter scenario.
While Wilson advocates for the awareness of the possibility of an active shooter, he tries to keep the risk in context as well.
“It’s an issue that we need to address but it’s not something we need to focus on by itself.” At the end of his training session, he usually leaves the audience with one message:
“If I could give you my best life saving tip, it’s to wear your seatbelt.”