Late last Tuesday night a social media post rumored the possibility of a shooter on campus Feb. 21. However, the rumor was debunked by University Police Department (UPD), as the threat was not intended for Cal Poly’s campus. That same night, UPD released a statement addressing the claim:
“UPD is aware of a social media post that references the possibility of a shooter on campus tomorrow. No credible threat to the campus has been received by the university and police are actively investigating the origin of the message. More information will be shared as it becomes available.”
The Instagram post sent both Long Beach Polytechnic High School and Cal Poly into action.
Early the next morning, Cal Poly sent out an email and text message saying the campus remained open and classes will continue as scheduled.
“The investigation indicates that Cal Poly was not the target of the post and the university has not received any direct threats to the safety of campus,” UPD said in the emergency alert.
Still, the rumor sparked conversation about the possibility of a school shooter on Cal Poly’s campus. UPD has trained for such situations, according to university spokesperson Matt Lazier.
Even though the threat was not deemed credible, UPD had extra officers on campus to increase police presence.
UPD stays ready throughout the year, too. They keep industry-standard equipment and have yearly trainings on responding to active-shooter situations where authenticity is the goal. UPD practices simulations in campus buildings with officers role-playing as both suspects and the injured, Lazier said. San Luis Obispo High School has been a training ground where both UPD and the San Luis Obispo Police Department have joint trainings.
UPD would partner with San Luis Obispo Police Department and other departments in the county in the case of an active shooter.
Because of the multiple agencies that would respond to emergencies such as a shooting on Cal Poly’s campus, the county has standardized maps that identify key locations and terminology to allow for a uniform response.
“The project was completed and the maps were provided to each law enforcement agency in February 2017,” Lazier said. Although not available to the public, all of the maps can be accessed digitally and are actively updated.
The active shooter response maps and communication protocol implemented by the Sheriff’s Office are a “tremendous step forward” in keeping local communities safe, according to Lazier.
UPD extends their training to the campus community, too, teaching citizens how to respond to a shooting using the Run. Hide. Fight. protocol. They also provide forums, walk-throughs and drills for specific departments several times a year on campus and by request; there’s one set for March 14 at 2 p.m. in the Julian A. McPhee University Union.
“These approaches have been in place for several years on campus. However, as events continue to occur around the country, UPD continues to try to increase its outreach efforts to campus to raise awareness of the issue,” Lazier said.