Campus safety concerns Gannon staff, students

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In the aftermath of three shootings occurring on college campuses nationwide, Gannon University Police and Safety are increasingly mindful of student safety.

Three weeks ago on Oct. 1, a mass shooting occurred at Umpqua Community College (UCC) in Roseburg, Ore. Eight students and an assistant professor were fatally shot by Christopher Mercer, 26, a student enrolled in the school.

Nine other people were also injured and Mercer shot himself about eight minutes after the first gunshot.

Approximately a week after the UCC shooting, two separate shootings occurred on two different college campuses, Texas Southern University and Northern Arizona University.

Both of these shootings resulted from altercations that turned violent and unlike the incident at UCC, were not active-shooter situations.

Nonetheless, these events amounted to three major university shootings within a two-week time frame in the U.S.

Gannon has never had an active shooter or violent intruder situation. That being said, Gannon Police and Safety are not neglecting the possibility of similar situations occurring.

Theodore Marnen, director of Police and Safety, said that the organization is certainly tuned in to the possibility of dangerous situations happening at Gannon.

“We have a heightened awareness of what is going on around the country,” Marnen said. “We’re concerned about the situation and we don’t want that to happen here.”

In order to make sure that Gannon is a safe campus, the Gannon University Police and Safety Officers participate in ongoing quarterly trainings.

In addition to officer trainings, certain faculty and staff members are also required to complete trainings that explain what they should do in the case of an active shooter scenario.

Campus officers are also able to complete joint trainings with different local agencies in the Erie area.

Agencies such as the Eire County Court House, Erie County Police Department, Erie County Sherriff’s Department, Office of the District Attorney, and the Erie Federal Bureau of Investigation are all in close proximity to the campus and are available to react in any serious situation.

Lester Fetterman, the assistant director of Gannon Police and Safety, believes that these resources set Gannon apart from other universities.

“Gannon is unique in [the aspect] that there’s always armed police presence on campus during the day,” he said.

Many students such as Jordon Martig, a freshman social studies major, believe that Gannon is a relatively safe campus.

“I think that Gannon is a safe school because of its close proximity to multiple law enforcement entities,” he said.

Other students, such as Mike Coyle, a freshman physician assistant major, agree with Martig to an extent.

“I feel as if the campus itself is safe, but the surrounding area outside the campus isn’t as secure,” Coyle said.

With the constant presence of college violence and active shooting situations on a national level, it is Police and Safety’s goal to be extremely aware of safety precautions and suspicious activity.

Marnen said that the members of Police and Safety are looking at the circumstances with these situations and seeing if there’s anything they can do more as a squad.

“We are constantly striving to adapt to outside influences and threats to campuses,” Marnen said.

 

OLIVIA BURGER

[email protected]ts.gannon.edu