Saddleback College president Tod A. Burnett recently sent an email to faculty, staff, and management to specify the safety of the Saddleback campus and to emphasize active shooter protocol.
“We would like to take this opportunity to let the entire Saddleback community know that your safety is our number one priority,” Burnett wrote. Interim Chief of Police Christopher S.M. Wilkinson said that since December up until February 4, he has managed to set up numerous presentations at faculty and staff division meetings for active shooter protocol. “You’re in an opened community. There’s a good reasonable belief there could be [guns on campus],” Wilkinson said. Wilkinson said that campus police would rather believe that there are guns on campus than to assume that there isn’t as to be better prepared for what may occur. “We don’t know if there are guns on campus, but have we trained and prepared for that? Sure. Are there laws in California that allow civilian individuals to carry firearm? Yes there are. Do we know if they bring them on campus? We don’t know,” Wilkinson said. According to the California’s Gun-Free School Zone Act, Penal Code 626.9, guns are not allowed within 1,000 feet of school grounds unless for specific cases. Wilkinson said that at a previous district he worked for in California, a student was punished for placing his long rifle at the back of his truck. After the case proceedings, the federal judge took the gun and refused to give it back to him for six months. Wilkinson said that campus police take weapon situations very seriously, especially since Saddleback has local community members who are on campus and are allowed to use certain facilities. The campus police and emergency information page on the Saddleback College website has been updated this year due to the recent shooting tragedies but ever since the Virginia Tech massacre, Wilkinson has been more alert than ever to student endangerment, he said. In a 20-minute video made by the Center for Personal Protection & Safety (CPPS), is a statement that appears across the screen. “Campus violence is defined as any action or behavior that may threaten the safety of a member of the campus community or impact his or her physical and [or] psychological well-being. “Campus violence includes everything from harassment, threats, and bullying … to the unthinkable.” The video made by CPPS is placed in the Saddleback police webpage under the active shooter section. It contains real life emergency calls and video footage of student endangerment. Although Wilkinson says that from his experience Saddleback is one of the most safest campuses he’s worked at, they still have crucial training and “qualify” at the shooting range once a month. “If we have an active shooter incident, the law enforcement, myself and including my officers are going to go to the location as fast as we can, as safe as we can with the equipment tools that we’ve been trained with. “There are three things we are going to do: We are going to locate it, we’re going to isolate it, and we’re going to eliminate it,” Wilkinson said. Wilkinson said that while a chaotic crowd would be running one way, that his team would be running toward the shooter. “If I didn’t have a gun, I would run and hide,” Cameron Fuentes, criminology major, said if an active shooter was on campus. If you’re out in the open and have nowhere to go Wilkinson advises to play dead, he also adds that if you’re in a building then barricade it and lock it down with furniture and to put your phones on vibrate.
*Video provided by Center for Personal Protection & Safety