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November 8, 2021
November 8, 2021

Public Safety, Communications collaborate to boost campus safety

Photos: Melia Covington

Public Safety and BJU Communications collaborate with one another to prepare for the possibility of a variety of emergency circumstances, including weather threats and active shooter situations.

David Champ, commander of Public Safety, said Public Safety sends all its officers through training for different types of emergencies. “Each of our officers [has] to go through SLED training, [which stands for] South Carolina Law Enforcement Division,” Champ said. “To become a security officer, they all have to go through that type of training.”

Public Safety also does training on campus in preparation for possible emergency events. 

“About three weeks ago, we had a training session with [Bob Jones] Academy … faculty and staff regarding active shooters,” Champ said. “So we went to the Academy and gave a presentation to them regarding an active shooter [situation] and how to respond to that,” he said. 

“And during the summer, we had the opportunity of training with the Greenville City Police Department in an active shooter situation,” Champ said. “We’re planning some training again with the Academy and with the usher crew on some medical, first responding-type incidents, should something occur.”

Champ said the way security personnel and law enforcement officers view active shooter situations has changed since Columbine, a mass shooting that occurred in April 1999 at Columbine High School in Colorado. 

Photos: Melia Covington

He said before this particular shooting the tactic usually taken by law enforcement was to wait and eventually send a SWAT team in to get the shooter. But since Columbine, that mindset has changed.

“[Law enforcement] has realized now that you have to go in: you can’t stop, you can’t stay,” Champ said. “So if there were an active shooter situation on our campus … our staff officers who are armed [are] going to be the first ones to respond to that.”

Champ also said not only local law enforcement, but also possibly federal law enforcement would arrive on campus to assist in neutralizing the threat of an active shooter.

Carol Keirstead, chief communications officer for Bob Jones University, said BJU’s communication with students in an emergency is twofold. “The lead communication would be the emergency notification system. That goes first to your cell phone and then it would go to your email,” Keirstead said. 

“Depending upon what the emergency is and how much we have to say about it, we could follow that up [with] an email,” she said. “But most of the time an emergency notification is sufficient.”

Keirstead said in the case of an active shooter situation, BJU would want to use the emergency alert system because that system would communicate most quickly with the student body and faculty and staff. “In that situation we’d probably send a series of communications because people would be really concerned,” Keirstead said.

Bryan Stock, a student Public Safety officer, said Public Safety provides training for its student officers. “We actually arrive a week early every semester, and they’ll put us through CPR and AED first aid courses for infant, adult and child,” Stock said. “They put us through what’s called SLED training … so we’ll go through and learn all about the laws and things like that.”

“Public Safety frequently responds to medical emergencies for students or faculty, fire alarms at campus buildings and vehicle accidents on campus,” he said.

Students and faculty can find resources for emergency communication and training online at home.bju.edu/emergency-procedures/. 

These resources include a link to update emergency contact information, BJU’s 2015 emergency operations plan and a 20-minute video, “Shots Fired on Campus,” which details how students should react in an active shooter situation.