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Campus police working to help students remember pre-pandemic safety fundamentals on campus

Otterbein University's chief of police is reminding students on campus about the fundamentals of "run, hide, fight" while also providing different trainings.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — With many more colleges starting the new fall semester this week, campus police around Ohio want students to remember the basics when it comes to run, hide, fight.

“Most campuses are very, very safe, but you want to prepare for a crisis on campus,” said Otterbein University Police Chief Larry Banaszak. “We know what to do during a fire drill or a tornado warning. Now we have to prepare for violent intruders on campus.”

Chief Banaszak said this is a key safety fundamental students may have forgotten during the pandemic because they weren’t on campus. While COVID-19 may have altered a lot in people’s lives, it didn't stop the violence on school grounds.

According to Everytown for Gun Safety, there were at least 43 incidents of gunfire in the country this year on school grounds.

Last month, police arrested a 21-year-old Hillsboro man for planning a mass shooting at an undisclosed Ohio college campus. He described himself as an incel - a group the FBI has determined as an emerging domestic threat.

This is why Banaszak, Otterbein’s police chief since 2003, said the university offers 10 to 15 simulated trainings every year to students, faculty and staff on three versions of “run, hide, fight.”

“It's all about, here's how you run out of the building, barricade your door, you know, and if you have to fight or attack a shooter, throw an attack…and here are some of the fundamentals,” he said.

Besides the basic fundamentals, there is also a new program called “Beyond Run Hide Fight” which provides education on what to expect when police come into a room when you are sheltered in place.

“That can be very traumatic,” Banaszak said. “Don’t be surprised if they search everybody in that room and search their belongings. We kind of walk them through the process to the point where police are going to escort them out of that room.”

Chief Banaszak said there is also a third version that provides a customized work environment training program where officers actually go into various offices and dorm areas to help point out key safety features.

“For example, if you walk into an area, where are those exits that you can get out of quickly? You know, where are you going to be seated in that particular location? And if you have to shelter in place what do you have inside your office that can best do that? And if you have to go out a window, how do you go out of that window? How do you break the window? How do you get out there as efficiently and safely as possible?” Banaszak said posing some of the questions that are asked in the training.

“And then what's your plan.”

Colleges are federally mandated by the Clery Act to submit new numbers by Oct. 1 for crimes that took place in the previous year. Click below to see the 2020 reports for several central Ohio colleges.

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