Douglas College officials to hone procedure in case of violent intruder
By Jake Wray, News Editor
An emergency lockdown drill will take place at both Douglas College campuses this month.
No specific dates have been announced for the annual drills, which give personnel and students a chance to practice what to do in case of violence on campus. Douglas College instituted an emergency lockdown plan five years ago.
Nancy Constable, director of safety, security, and risk management for Douglas College, said an instance of violence at Douglas College is “unlikely,” and her team constantly monitors potential threats and other factors.
“Violence on our campuses is very, very minimal, and violence involving weapons is extremely minimal, as it is across BC [post-secondary institutions,]” she said in an interview with the Other Press. “We know our context, we’re paying attention to behaviors on campus, we’re paying attention to messages that people provide us, we pay attention to concerns as they come forward and we intervene … Our security teams are ever-vigilant, and because we have mechanisms in place to communicate, receive information and act on it, we’re confident to say that an act of such violence is unlikely.”
The lockdown procedure at Douglas College is solid, according to Constable, but each time officials practice the procedure they find something small that can be improved.
“The reason we do lockdown procedures is that opportunity to evaluate and smooth the procedure. I would say the procedure itself has withstood the test of time. Every year we’ve done it, the procedure remains sound,” Constable said. “It’s more the other outcomes [that can sometimes be improved,] like ‘Oh, there’s some windows there that we didn’t put blinds on. We need blinds,’ or ‘Oh, we found there’s a couple of rooms without locks on them. We need to install locks.’ It’s been more around updating infrastructure needs around lockdown capacity.”
Constable said if there are students who are concerned about another student potentially committing violence, they can come talk to someone on her team.
“We take it very seriously, and what we would do is we would listen to the person who has the concern, and let them know that we’re going to follow up with the individual of concern. We would keep confidential the student reporting, for their own safety,” she said. “Then we would reach out to the student who is potentially concerning in their behaviours and find out their version of events, what’s happening for them, and then take it from there. Like is this an opportunity for us to let you know about college supports? Is this an opportunity for us to intervene in some way and connect you to community supports? Is it a person who needs accommodation at school? What is the issue, and what are the best ways for us to help?”
Last year there was one instance where the lockdown procedure was instituted and it was not a practice drill, according to Constable.
“On May 4, 2016, we had a report of a person in the area of the campus with a gun, and we invoked the lockdown procedure,” she said, adding that police determined it to be a false alarm. “Police investigated and it was believed to be a person who had an object that was mistakenly reported to police as a gun, and of course we have to take the maximum approach to that until we can confirm it is safe.”