Campus safety top priority as mass shootings increase

Mass shootings in the United States have increased since 2014. As of Feb. 7, 60 mass shootings have occurred in the U.S. since the beginning of the year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. In 2022, 647 shootings occurred, while 300 were on school grounds, including the Uvlade, TX, shooting in May 2022.

Public schools in the U.S. have increased security by including panic buttons in classrooms, equipped with locks and limited access to the school. Parents and visitors must press a buzzer and show identification to be let into the school.

“WT is an open campus which is a challenge, unlike typical K through 12 schools where you have to go through one central door, typically by the office to check-in, or might even have to be buzzed in,” said Shawn Burns, Chief of Police. “When you have as many buildings as we have, and in such a large geographical area is what we have, it becomes very problematic.”

There have been 11 mass shootings at college campuses since 1966 with three or more people killed.

“Right now, we offer training on demand for what we call civilian response to active shooter events,” Burns said. “[It’s] to help people learn how in the event of an active shooting or a mass casualty situation, they have a little bit of basic knowledge on how to stop bleeding and save lives,” Burns said.

In 2020, WT was named one of the safest campuses in Texas by Your Local Security. The crime rate at WT was .90 per 10,000 people, and violence against women was .32 per 10,000 people. According to the University Police Department, only four reported cases of aggravated assault occurred at WT in 2021.

Buff Alert is an emergency notification system that alerts students and staff about health and safety emergencies through email and text. Safe Zone is a new free app allowing students and staff to request an escort, emergency assistance and medical assistance with a push of a button. Officers will receive an alert along with the location.

If you are interested in training as a civilian in response to an active shooter event (CRASE), you can contact the University Police Department, as they offer training on demand. While we are an open campus, the University Police Department is aware of the challenges and has systems in place to protect us in the case of any danger.