Police speak about potential campus shootings

The UVSC Gun and Knife Club wanted to know what to do in the unfortunate event of an on campus shooting, so they invited Sgt. Sprague from Campus Police and Sgt. Wakamatsu from the Orem police department to offer some answers to that and other questions students had.

Sgt. Wakamatsu suggested that if students hear a gunshot, they should not run to the nearest exit. Attempting to flee immediately and in a group, he explained, could make a student the perfect target for a shooter; according to Sgt. Wakamatsu, the behavior of a shooter would likely resemble that of a hunter, saying, "Unless he has a specific target, the shooter will bypass 99% of the rooms. You may want to hold still, keep down — don’t make a target of yourself."

Sgt. Wakamatsu acknowledged that every situation will be different, though, suggesting that, rather than follow a set routine, it is paramount for students to be aware of their options. Though such a situation would, no doubt, be enormously stressful, he said, students need to keep their heads about them to decide what is best at any moment.

Answering a student’s question about police response to a campus shooting, Sgt. Sprague said, "typical response time anywhere on campus is usually less than two minutes. Policies dictate that we try to eliminate the threat. We will be calling Orem for help." Sgt. Wakamatsu added, "We do not do what was done in the past, which was to stay outside, set up a perimeter, make phone calls and try to negotiate; we go in. We go in because people are dying."

Commenting on the possibility of predicting a shooting, after being prompted about Virginia Tech, Sgt. Sprague said, "We do have a couple of students that we are keeping an eye on." Fortunately for UVSC, its police have learned lessons from others’ mistakes.

Sgt. Wakamatsu explained that the best defense during and against a shooting is information, saying "Nowadays in America, it could happen anywhere. The less you know, the bigger risk you are (in)."

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