CYPRESS — With the area’s leading community college system preparing for the fall semester, the college’s police department offered free classes to educate Lone Star staff and students on how to survive an active shooter scenario.
You can sum up the course in three words: Run. Hide. Fight.
The campus was also the place where a mass stabbing incident occurred on April 9, 2013. One of the class members was at the college that day, adding to the reality of the class’s importance.
“We’re doing these classes to prepare everyone mentally,” said Lone Star College police officer Pablo Martinez. Martinez, the instructor for the active shooter response class is a veteran police officer with over a decade of experience in policing educational institutions, including a public school district for 14 years.
However, attending classes at a Texas college or university has a slightly different aspect compared to a public K-12 school, as some college students are eligible to carry concealed handguns on campus and in class. In the case of the CyFair location, there is also a public library which regularly brings the general public into direct contact with the college system.
Martinez cleared the fog on what eligible students could and couldn’t do, explaining how 30.06 signage works. He explained that while open carry isn’t allowed at all, locations allow for legally carrying a concealed handgun.
Professors may request for an exception for their classrooms at Lone Star, but the college may also refuse the request. However, certain areas of the campuses do prohibit even concealed carry of firearms. These areas include certain laboratories that would regularly contain chemicals.
The class watched several training videos, giving more insight into how to respond should an active shooter situation arise at a Lone Star campus. Among the training videos was New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ 480 seconds (watch on Youtube here: https://youtu.be/CVgXH7smBCk). The NY department said the average length of an active shooter situation is only 480 seconds — eight minutes — long.
Martinez explained that even with Lone Star’s police force being on-campus, the response time is a maximum of three minutes. With roaming officers, the response time can be much shorter.
While on a Lone Star campus, there are landline phones that are marked with stickers and are usually placed in promiscuous locations. Should an emergency of any sort arise, the fastest way to get in contact with a dispatcher is picking one these phones off of the hook. Martinez added that if all else fails, knock the phone handset off the base and the dispatcher will send the closest police officer to the room.
He added that even if a phone is accidentally knocked off, that the police force will always send an officer to check just in case.
However, calling 9-1-1 from a cell phone wouldn’t hurt, either.
Years ago, when Martinez and other Lone Star police officers would hold active shooter response classes, there might be as few as five people attending. That has changed. The last day of the summer classes had a morning and an evening course. The morning course was almost standing room only with 40 attendees. The evening course had approximately half that, but still included a wide swath of citizens.