Ohio University staff and the Athens Police Department, or APD, said they feel confident in their abilities to protect OU students in the situation of an active threat.
With the rise in shootings at colleges, it can happen on any campus. The Ohio University Police Department, or OUPD, along with other OU staff, reassures that it is prepared in case of a threat.
“We definitely would respond quickly and directly,” Tim Ryan, OUPD staff lieutenant, said.
Ryan said the exact course of action isn’t released by law enforcement, so it cannot be easily countered.
OUPD, APD and the Athens County Sheriff’s Office have all worked together, and independently, to prepare for an active threat, such as an armed individual.
OU has an emergency alert system in place that is able to send notifications to students and faculty on campus.
OUPD and OU’s emergency programs staff operate the emergency system, both being able to send notifications to devices or campus.
The system has multiple tools that can be utilized for a variety of alerts, Jill Harris, emergency programs manager, said. These alerts can include, but are not limited to, sirens, texts, social media posts and emails.
In the situation of an active shooter, OUPD is able to send out an alert of the report and what areas to avoid, Ryan said.
Local law enforcement agencies stay prepared by staying up-to-date on training, Nick Magruder, APD chief of police, said.
OUPD and APD both use force-on-force simulations, Ryan said. In force-on-force training, simulations feel realistic and induce quick-thinking skills, which ensures that officers are ready to respond to those types of situations
APD is currently working on getting its budget for its force-on-force equipment, which will end up costing around $5,000 to $6,000 for ammunition, simulation weapons and gear, Magruder said.
All three agencies will act together if an active threat occurs. Since OU has been moving underclassmen to off-campus housing, such as Rivergate or Riverpark, they technically fall under APD’s jurisdiction, Magruder said.
“(We’re) extremely confident in our partnerships,” Ryan said. “We work very closely with all three of them—the Athens City Police Department, the Athens County Sheriff’s Office and the Highway Patrol. We have a great working relationship and it’s really one of the strengths in our area.”
The initial 911 call would come through the Sheriff’s Office, which would then request third-party backup from APD, and OUPD would be sent to the scene.
“We’re lucky that in our community we know almost every other officer,” Magruder said. “We trust each other.”
The agencies also work together to monitor unique behavior and keep track of trends, also called a threat assessment, Ryan said.
“I think Virginia Tech was really the turning point, and we started getting better about threat assessment,” Ryan said. “People are talking about what they do before they do it, or maybe people aren’t noticing concerning behaviors before they happen.”
OUPD also offers public presentations for community members called “Run, Hide, Fight,” which provides them with methods to react the best they can in active situations.
The police department runs these presentations regularly but they are offered upon request as well, Ryan said.
Beyond this, OU has its own critical response team that is designed to help in situations that may arise around an incident, indirectly.
OUPD has a video on its YouTube page discussing the many ways they are prepared in case of an aggressor.