Though officers most often aid in nonemergency calls such as finding missing property or assisting students with a jump start, recent and tragic shooting events, including in educational settings, have highlighted the need to be prepared for every threat the campus could face.
“Unfortunately, due to the current climate and the increase of active shooter events across the nation, there is a call for more frequent training,” said Police Chief Edwin Kaup. “This call for an increase in training is made by the university as a whole.”
Officers already complete multiple days annually of active shooter training tailored to law enforcement, but the department and university leadership wanted to provide something more this fall — active shooter preparedness training for civilians.
“It isn’t due to any actual or current threats to campus,” Kaup said. “It’s that we understand everyone’s growing concerns, so we have dedicated ourselves to equipping the campus community with all the safety resources and tools available and allocated personnel to deliver this training for those who wish to take advantage of it.”
The police department is offering two-hour training presentations on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9 to 11 a.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. throughout the fall semester, though officers can also accommodate departments’ unique scheduling needs. Interested departments can email Capt. Jeff Martinez at Jeff.Martinez@mtsu.edu to book a training.
The two hours consist of a PowerPoint presentation with several audio and video clips walking attendees through the background of these types of events, actionable takeaways and a case study. It ends with a question-and-answer session.
Sgt. Jason Hurley, one of the instructors, said the department understands the subject matter is sensitive, and instructors take great care to minimize the stress and fear attendees may have during the presentation.
“We strive to provide a positive educational environment where our community can feel encouraged and respected,” Hurley said. “We allow plenty of time for questions, concerns or anything our community may wish to share on the topic and make ourselves readily available after the presentation for further assistance or future communication.”
“We very specifically chose media and examples that are appropriate for the general public, and we give warnings throughout the presentation of what’s coming next,” added fellow instructor Lt. Jacob Wagner. “Our focus during this training is on how to be proactive rather than on the upsetting nature of the subject.”
Officers first became certified to train civilians in active shooter preparedness about five years ago when Wagner, who oversees training at the department, learned of a civilian-oriented active shooter course and attended it with a handful of other officers.
“If there’s a way we can help any member of our campus be safer and more prepared, we want to train our officers in it and extend this knowledge to everyone on campus,” Wagner said. “We’re not happy about why there’s a renewed need for this type of training, but we are happy to provide it to the MTSU community.”
Training tailored to the campus community
In addition to Wagner and Hurley, Lt. Jon Leverette, Capt. Jeff Martinez and Lt. J.R. Spain lead the presentations and have delivered them to staff at Housing and Residential Life, Campus Recreation, the College of Liberal Arts, the Jones College of Business, Student Health Services, the Departments of Biology and Chemistry and more — reaching over 300 people so far this fall.
“Lt. Jacob Wagner did an amazing job conveying the information in an easy to learn format,” said Danielle Smitty, director of nursing and clinical services at Student Health Services. “He also took the time to tailor the training to specific scenarios that we might encounter here in Health Services. His presentation was engaging and pertinent. I would highly recommend this training to all departments on campus.”
— Stephanie Barrette (Stephanie.Barrette@mtsu.edu)