On March 6, 2014, this text message and email alert was sent to students and faculty: “UMD Alert: Police on the scene with a person with a weapon call which originated at Kirby Plaza. Police have taken individuals into custody. Shelter-in-Place. Stand by for further information.” Shelter-In-Place is the standard procedure for incidents that involve armed or violent intruders. When this message is received, students should find immediate refuge and remain there. Students are encouraged to turn off lights, silence phones and electronic devices, as well as block entry to their place of shelter and, if it is safe, call 911.
The reaction from students and faculty was confusion and panic when they received the alert because no one knew what Shelter-in-Place meant. Sophomore Abby Christensen said, “I would be confused because I wouldn’t know what to do, then alarmed because I don’t know what to do.”
Unfortunately, there is someone on campus that is not surprised by this information. UMDPD Chief Law Enforcement Officer Scott Drewlo said that now more than ever he is doing everything he can to lessen this confusion.
Officer Drewlo has a number of ways to keep people informed. For immediate notification, there are the text messages and email alerts. UMD also had tone alert radios and emergency alert sirens placed around campus to alert students, staff and faculty about potentially dangerous situations.
Students, staff and faculty can use the UMDPD website to educate themselves on what to do when a Shelter-In-Place alert is sent out. The website also has videos to show you what to do with an active shooter on campus. UMPD can also provide active threat training to classes and departments and send informative emails to the campus.
One of Drewlo’s goals is to make informing the campus community a part of everyday life. For example, he wants to give information on Shelter-In-Place in the mandatory freshman seminar classes. Right now, only two classes have requested his presentation. According to Drewlo, that is not enough.
Drewlo hopes to build a connection between students and officers. “We are in a unique situation,” he said. “We can work as partners. We want to be a positive first contact for students.”
Drewlo says that there are a number of emergencies in which evacuation is not the best solution. In that case, one should shelter-in-place.
Other important things to do in these situations are to be aware of your surroundings, remain with people if you can and stay calm.
“Students should definitely not go and see what’s happening.” Drewlo said.
BY HANNAH BROADBENT Statesman Correspondent