Four years ago today, a 26-year-old student at Umpqua Community College in Oregon fatally shot a professor and eight students and wounded eight others, before killing himself as police approached.
While perhaps lesser known than similar tragedies at Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech or Parkland, Umpqua nonetheless ranks as the deadliest shooting in the state.
So what have we learned from Umpqua and all the other school shootings that have occurred since then? The root causes of these incidents have been debated heavily, as have the remedies — and we’re not going to come to a consensus on those anytime soon. But we can agree that school safety can and must be each district and state’s highest priority as long as these types of school attacks are still possible.
In the wake of a campus shooting, it is always tempting for school safety stakeholders to focus all their preparedness efforts and dedicate their budgets to countering this exact kind of high-profile threat in the future. But it’s a mistake schools must avoid.
As we’ve noted in previous blogs, schools must instead take a balanced all-hazards approach to risk that doesn’t focus solely on the last attack. Haystax designed our cloud-based school safety solution so it can be used to prepare for and manage any man-made accidental or intentional threat, as well as a wide array of natural hazards — any of which could strike a school with little or no notice.
Additionally, the solution provides enhanced situational awareness and information sharing, which are critical to the ability of all agencies in the school safety community to be better prepared, detect emerging threats faster and respond more quickly.
Colleges and university campuses have their own unique challenges. They are typically spread over wide areas, and many of the larger higher-ed systems manage separate campuses across the U.S. and even abroad.
In these large-enterprise situations, the need for a common operating picture and up-to-the minute situational awareness is even more critical for security decision-makers.
Whether you run a small K-12 district with eight schools or a massive multi-campus university system, take this sad anniversary as a reminder to keep your focus on all-hazard preparedness.
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Note: To learn more about the security challenges facing K-12 and higher-ed institutions today, download our new white paper: Managing School Safety in the 21st Century.