The FBI released a study this past September of 160 active shooter incidents from 2000 to 2013, 12 of which took place at institutions of higher education.
Ten of the 12 transpired after 2006 and three were perpetrated with a gun of a higher magnitude than a handgun, such as a shotgun or rifle.
Although this study was selective, as noted in a New York Post piece released weeks later that called the report “remarkably shoddy” and “bogus,” the news does beg the question of how UPD would handle the case of an active shooter on campus.
“Most training sessions are modeled the same way, which means there’s a classroom session in the beginning and then they go through some scenarios involving active shooters,” Eric Olsen, assistant chief of police at University Police Department, said. “We do them several times a year, usually in the summer because it’s a little slower and we can spare the staffing.”
According to Olsen, the scenarios involve the use of airsoft guns, replicas that fire plastic pellets, in mock situations to simulate the event of an active shooter.
Combined with the classroom session, these training sessions usually take “at least a full eight hour block,” while some span “multiple days,” Olsen said
UPD possesses the AR-15 (an assault rifle that stems from the same branch of the M16), ballistic helmets and heavy duty vests for these kinds of cases.
“So our campus and our students wouldn’t have to wait for Suffolk County’s emergency service officers to get here,” Olsen said regarding the purchase of the weaponry. “Their projected ETA is 10 to 15 minutes. That’s not acceptable to us.”
The ETA for UPD officers would probably be around one minute, maybe less, and the unit would come with same equipment as Suffolk County Police Department’s Emergency Service Unit, Olsen said.
If a call came in to UPD saying there is an active shooter on campus, Suffolk County Police would be notified immediately, but every Stony Brook University police unit would be dispatched to attempt to handle the situation prior to the arrival of outside help, Olsen said.
As for the assurance of student safety in such a situation, UPD has a variety of methods to reach and inform the campus.
“We may use the campus siren. We have voice-capable fire alarms,” Olsen said. “Someone can pick up a mic in our dispatch area and speak to a particular building and give them directions.”
According to the Stony Brook Emergency Management website, students should follow Shelter-in-Place procedures if an active shooter is on campus. The procedure involves finding the closest room, locking one’s self inside and calling UPD if safe enough to do so.
The students themselves are not overly concerned with the possibility, though.
“Doesn’t bother me that much,” Mkosi Woseley, a freshman computer science major, said. “I do [feel safe]. They have police all around.”
According to the university’s 2014 Clery Report—a government-mandated document disclosing campus crime statistics—there were no murders, non-negligent manslaughters or negligent manslaughters on Stony Brook campus from 2011 to 2013.
There were a total of nine weapon arrests and 17 weapon referrals over the same span, none of which included guns.
“Not too worried,” Steven Earlie, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, said. “It’s a pretty big school so anything can happen, but I don’t think about it too much.”