Public Safety AnnouncementDear Members of the Wilkes Community,
Recent acts of violence around the country and abroad can make us pause and wonder if something similar can happen on our campus. Considering what we might do in the event of an active shooter makes the possibility of violence on our campus seem more real. It is important for you to be proactive develop an emergency plan at work and home. To quote a famous American general, “a good plan implemented today is better than a perfect plan implemented tomorrow”. You should know that first and foremost, your Wilkes University’s Department of Public Safety is prepared. We want you to know that if the unthinkable should happen here, Wilkes University and partnering agencies are ready to act.
The Department of Public Safety will soon receive the latest active shooter training from the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center. We intend to implement standardized training for all of our officers through The FBI named ALERRT their standard for active shooter response training. I’m proud to announce that Wilkes University was selected as a training site. In addition to our officers attending the training, we have invited our law enforcement partners in the City of Wilkes-Barre, local police departments, and the FBI to participate in this training – many of whom would be first responders to campus in the event of a critical incident.
The ALERRT curriculum has been adopted by numerous states and agencies because it uses the train-the-trainer model. The ALERRT curriculum, developed after the tragedy at Columbine High School, has become the national standard in shooter response training. The ALERRT Center has trained more than 70,000 police officers in dynamic, force-on-force, scenario-based training.
The Department of Public Safety will also be participating in the Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) train-the-trainer course. Upon completion, our Public Safety officers will have the necessary training and expertise to offer presentations to the Wilkes community about how to respond when involved in an active shooter incident. Topics will include the history and prevalence of active shooter events, the role of first responders, civilian response options, medical issues, and drills.
During the Spring semester training seminars will be offered to students, faculty, and staff. In collaboration with the Wilkes Office of Risk and Compliance Management, training modules will be presented in Emergency Management 101 and Protective Measures for Critical Incidents. These programs will be offered on several dates and times and will be open to all members of the campus community.
With the support of President Leahy, cabinet members and departmental directors recently attended a half-day seminar entitled “The Role of the Campus Executive in Emergency Management.” This training was in addition to annual table tops drills designed to enhance the campus response to emergency situations.
In closing, I’d like you to consider the following reminders regarding your overall safety and security:
- Prevention is critical. If something seems or looks strange, it probably is. Tell us. You and other members of the campus community play a valuable role in maintaining our shared safety by speaking up when something doesn’t seem right. When campus officials ask you to report suspicious activity, the intention is to create a community that looks out for itself.
Always trust your gut instincts. You are the best expert on your own environment. Don’t worry about “bothering” the Department of Public Safety - that’s why we are here.If you know of or hear about a potentially threatening situation on campus – a person who makes written or verbal threats, shows an unusual fascination with weapons, obsession or stalking, or any other actions that seem odd or out of place – contact the Department of Public Safety at (570) 408-4999. For immediate threats, dial 911. Preparation can go a long way towards feeling in control, even if these situations are difficult to think about.
2. Make a plan for yourself and the people you care about. Wilkes University encourages the campus community to take time and make a plan. Having thought even once about what you would do in an emergency may be critical in an actual emergency situation. I encourage you to watch this video to help in your plan. (A warning: the video includes a simulation of an active shooter situation, and may be difficult for some to watch.) Make sure that you have emergency response information with you (some keep that information on their phone and ID). On your phone, consider making a “Contacts” entry labeled EMERGENCY. Identify how you and your loved ones will connect if an event occurs. Sign up and update your information to receive emergency text alerts here.
3. Work on managing fear and anxiety. Thinking about potential violence may cause increased anxiety, fear, worry, suspicion and hypervigilance to your surroundings and the people in them. You may also notice difficulty sleeping, irritability, and poor concentration. This is normal, especially in the immediate aftermath of an event. These reactions may be exacerbated if you have experienced violence in the past, know someone who has, or feel overwhelmed with other life events.
4. Focus on becoming more resilient in the face of adversity. Recognize the situations that make you most nervous, collect information and make plans.
5. Keeping perspective is also important. Remember that university campuses are one of the safest settings in our country. Wilkes University has trained professionals to help keep us safe. As mentioned above, you play an important part in keeping this campus safe, too.
If you think additional support could be useful, please reach out. The Wilkes University Health and Wellness Services office provides routine health services for all students, staff and faculty, and is staffed by a certified registered nurse practitioner and a registered nurse. Its mission is to provide care, education and advocacy to improve the health and well-being of its students, staff and faculty. Visit this link for more information on Health and Wellness.
I deeply appreciate your willingness to address these difficult topics. My intention is to create a community that looks out for itself. By working together, we will make our community safer.
My door is always open to you should you want to discuss this or any other public
safety matter on or around our campus. Have a wonderful holiday and safe break.
Chief Christopher J. Jagoe
Director, Department of Public Safety