The recent attack at Ohio State University has left a somber mood at colleges and campuses throughout the nation.
Here, the feeling is no different, and it prompted Bakersfield College Public Safety Department Director Christopher Counts to address the campus community.
“Every new attack on school campuses across the country, no matter how frequent, brings up troubling feelings for many,” Counts said. “Our hearts and prayers go out to our friends, family and colleagues who were affected in this tragic incident.
"It is noted that OSU did everything in its power to maintain order and control of the situation. Sources noted that the assailant made social media posts regarding his feelings and a final remark hours before the incident. All of these examples demonstrate the importance of the concept of if you ‘see something, say something.’”
Such attacks on campuses have prompted officials to explore steps that can be used to prevent future incidents.
“In just about every case of an active shooter incident, someone knew the shooter was planning the attack and did not inform anyone,” Counts said. “In each case where someone knew the attacker was planning the attack, they missed the opportunity to notify the proper authorities to prevent the attack from happening.
"Maybe the person who heard a concerning remark assumed the attacker would never follow through, or that it was an empty threat. If they would have only said something to someone, even if they weren’t sure, those lives may have been saved. That is a heavy burden to carry for not speaking up.”
Counts noted that the BC Department of Public Safety held an active shooter training where the “key of the training is ‘Run, Hide, Fight’.”
In his words:
When an alert is sent regarding an active shooter, or you hear it taking place, some of your options are:
1. Run: If you hear shooting and it is a distance away from you and you think it is safe, run away from the shooting and get as far away as possible.
2. Hide: Hiding includes locking all immediate doors in your surroundings, turning off all lights, barricading the doors, turn off cell phones that may make noise, and hide in a secure location. Stay low to the ground and be as quiet as possible.
3. Fight: If the shooter comes into your room or area and you have nowhere to run or hide, your best option may be to fight the shooter. Get mad! Throw anything and everything at the shooter. This person is trying to take your life.
Counts also noted that a video on “Run, Hide, Fight” is located on the Bakersfield College website.
However, this training is just one of many efforts the campus is taking to identify, prevent or resolve potential issues beforehand, Counts said.
He noted that the campus has formed the Students of Concern (SOC) Team, which is comprised of individuals on campus, across various disciplines, that meet weekly to discuss and investigate concerns from faculty, staff and students.
The goal is “to assure everyone that Bakersfield College takes these incidents very serious and has a team in place to investigate and deal with these type of situations,” Counts said. “However, we are only as effective as the help and referrals that we receive from you, the members of our college community.
"You are the ones in a position to hear those off-handed comments of potential violence, or overhear individuals talk about their conflicts with a professor or another student and how they plan to retaliate violently, or you may be a student or professor who has noticed a change in someone’s behavior or they have become withdrawn. There are many different scenarios you may observe about someone that could cause concern for the safety of themselves and/or others.”
He added: “Always trust your instincts, and if you feel uneasy about a situation, get to a safe place and call for help.”
He noted that everyone can make a difference.
“Bakersfield College does everything in its power to maintain a safe and comfortable environment for all faculty, staff and students,” he said. “Remember, if you see something, say something, and let's do something about it.”
MISSING CARD: There’s no greater worry than when you lose your driver’s license in a shopping mall area. Such was my case a couple of weeks ago when my license accidentally slipped out of my phone case holder.
Several years ago, this happened to my niece, and she would later find out that someone stole her identity and was using her information in Southern California. She had to go through various public agencies to clear up the issue.
However, I was much luckier. A Good Samaritan who happens to work at Jim Burke Ford Lincoln found my license, dropped it in an envelope and sent it to me.
The envelope was from Jim Burke, and inside was a Post-It note with the following message: “Found in the parking lot at Target.” No name was included but had I known the person, I would have given him or her a big hug. So the best I can do now is send out an open thank you to the kind, genuine person who returned my card.
It fills my heart to know we have some wonderful, caring people in Bakersfield. I hope to pay it forward some day. Merry Christmas.
Email contributing columnist Olivia Garcia at email@example.com. The views expressed are her own.