University holds active shooter training

University police, the Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps (BEMCo) and Waltham emergency responders conducted an active-shooter drill in the library on Wednesday, March 21.

Administrators and police first announced the drill in a campus-wide email on Feb. 5 and posted a large electronic sign at the entrance to the university shortly after, alerting the community of the drill. Three subsequent emails and university web pages provided additional details on the procedure.

At 9:04, a.m. the Brandeis Emergency Notification System (BENS) sent out an alert stating the drill had begun. BENS sent out notifications again at around 10 a.m. to say the drill was ongoing and at 11:45 a.m. to announce the drill had ended.
On March 20, a final email notification reminded recipients they may hear the sounds of simulated gun-shots if outside the library Wednesday morning. The drill involved “interactive role-playing that, were it not for posted signs indicating police training is underway, would look and sound to a passerby as if a real crisis were unfolding,” Chief of Police Ed Callahan wrote in an email. A member of law enforcement acted as the shooter, and student volunteers portrayed victims and witnesses.

The goal of the drill was to test university communications systems and prepare emergency responders in the event of an actual active shooter. President Ron Liebowitz, on Wednesday, reiterated what other university officials have said: that these kinds of drills are now common practice on college campuses. “While this exercise was not prompted by a particular incident, events across the country unfortunately underscore the need for all institutions to prepare to encounter an active shooter scenario,” said Liebowitz in a campus-wide message.

The library was closed until 12 p.m to allow for the drill, though all other buildings were open as normal. Parking behind the library was restricted and Upper Usdan was packed with students working on their laptops.

Representatives from the Brandeis Counseling Center (BCC) were available in the Department of Community Living Offices in Usdan for students who needed support. Though the full Brandeis police force participated, the switchboard remained operational throughout the drill in case an officer was needed elsewhere.

The drill comes days before thousands of people, including Brandeis students, are expected to attend the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., Boston and hundreds of other cities to call for gun control reform. The group Brandeis Never Again organized a “Moment of Loudness” Wednesday night to counteract both the active shooter drill and the moment of silence it organized last Wednesday on the one month anniversary of the mass shooting in Parkland, FL.

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