Changes in the year following campuswide lockdown
By Mitchell Roland - Staff Reporter
One year after a shooting incident near campus shut down Highline, Public Safety has adapted new policies to be better prepared if a shooting were to occur.
On Friday, Feb. 16 last year, Highline was shut down due to reports of an active shooter on campus. The campus went into lockdown after someone called 911 to report a shooter running into Building 99.
While there was not a shooter in Building 99, police did determine there were shots fired at a gas station near campus. The incident occurred only two days after a shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida where 17 people died and 17 more were injured.
Director of Public Safety & Emergency Management David Menke said that last year's incident was a learning experience for the college.
"We did have some lessons learned and have made some change based off them with a full report provided to the senior leadership of the college," he said.
Menke said that after the incident, there was a "complete post-incident action plan" and an outside evaluator was brought in to assess the response.
Since the incident a little over a year ago, Menke said that there have been upgrades made to public safety.
"We have upgraded our monitoring system using more up to date software and camera systems," he said.
There will also be a campus-wide shelter in place drill on April, 9 at 9:45 a.m. Menke said that Highline will be "testing out new lockdown products during our next lockdown drill and will hopefully implement them across the campus."
Last year, 113 people were killed in school shootings. And with the incidents seemingly occurring weekly, Menke said that Public Safety is on high alert after a school shooting.
"Whenever there is a school shooting, we do have a heightened awareness," he said.
But even when there hasn't been a shooting, Menke said that he tries to remain "vigilant all the time, not just when there is an incident at another school."
Menke said that when a shooting occurs somewhere, he studies the incident to try to learn what did and did not work.
But even one year after the incident, Menke said that there are still resources he wishes he could obtain if he had additional funding.
"We would purchase more visual and audio indicators during an emergency to keep everyone aware of an incident," he said.
Menke said that Public Safety is also limited in the number of officers it can hire, due to budget constraints.
And finally, Menke said that an expensive product that intrigues him is an automated gunshot detector. This system would automatically detect a gunshot on campus and send out alerts that a gun had been fired.
But Menke said that the biggest change the college would benefit from is free.
"The biggest piece of ad- vice for people, whether on campus or off, is to be aware of your surroundings and not to make yourself an easy target," he said.
Menke recommends knowing where emergency exits are and making a plan for what to do in the event of an emergency.
"If you do not think about possible emergency situations, it could be difficult to make sound decisions under stress," Menke said. "I see people walking around staring intently into their phones and not even aware of their surroundings."