April 17, 2007

Fuck the Talking Heads. They're Empty.

I was an RA when the "Ground Hog Day Massacre" happened at my university. My house was directly across the street from where they suspected a sniper to be located. My job was to get my residents out of all north facing windows, rooms and all public areas, keep all security doors secured and prevent students from exiting the building while the SWAT team moved in across the street. The info I had said there was a sniper about 20 yards from my front door. It seems like it would be an easy task, but it wasn't.

Imagine having an entire city whose average citizen age is 21. Imagine they answer to no one since they're "adults" and imagine that most of them have the common sense of a gnat. That's a college campus. It's made worse when a stressor is involved. A possible sniper didn't faze my residents or their friends. They wanted to see the action. My job was to keep them from being in harm's way. So imagine how much it sucked to have to write $50 citations to kids who thought it was cool to sneak into rooms and out windows to stand on the ledge to get a better view. I didn't want to stick my neck out and drag them out of rooms and ledges, but it was my job.

College campuses today have fairly well trained law enforcement units. They're either made up of their own squad or like my school- their own plus local LE departments. But face it: 24 armed guys who work different shifts aren't enough to cover a 26K student campus and take down a psycho with a death wish and plenty of ammo.

Those staffs, however, are trained to deal with domestic disputes on a regular basis. It's not difficult to see how they mistook the dorm shooting as a domestic dispute. There was no reason to believe the shooter was a spree shooter intent on maximizing death to innocent victims. And Keep in mind that a university has a duty to ensure chaos doesn't erupt while investigating a crime. What would have happened if they had storm sirens and had set them off? What students and staff were going to proceed in an orderly fashion where????

Now granted- there is a PR component to the whole thing I'm sure. It's not like alumni give money in droves to schools with shootings, but I doubt that controlled that response. What controlled it was preliminary information that showed that no one else was being hurt and that the first shooting that had all the hallmarks of a controlled domestic dispute. Even if they had sent out a mass broadcast, how do you shut down a 26K person town in 10 minutes? How do you make the citizens take the threat seriously? You can't.

Those students would have taken it as a skip day and congregated in lunchrooms, TV lounges, study areas, and other public places where they would have just as easily been sitting ducks. No amount of personnel, guns, SWAT gear or warnings would have prevented the shooter from doing what he wanted. It's sad, but true.

I just wish the talking heads would stop making negative stuff up. The whole situation is bad enough without blaming the officers and rescue personnel who stuck their necks out to keep people safe. They were just following tried and true procedure designed to maximize safety for the most people in a given circumstance.

Fuck the media. In the ass.