|Cal Poly Pomona Police Chief Michael Guerin|
The tragic shooting at Virginia Tech on April 16, which killed more than 30 people, offers a somber time to reflect on how Cal Poly Pomona is prepared to deal with such an incident.
While campus crises by nature are unpredictable, university Police Chief Michael Guerin assures that sworn officers at Cal Poly Pomona are highly trained to deal with large-scale incidents. Several measures are also in place to keep the campus community informed if an incident happened here.
“Our officers feel great sadness and sympathy for the students and families of Virginia Tech affected by the shootings,” Guerin says. He adds that the event has also given added emphasis to further refine local capabilities.
In law enforcement, incidents like the one at Virginia Tech are called “Active Shooter” incidents. Cal Poly Pomona police officers are trained to stop a suspect as rapidly as possible – if this ever occurred.
“Before the Columbine tragedy the thinking was to surround the scene and wait for a SWAT team,” Guerin says. “Now the training is to move quickly with the available officers to stop the suspect.”
Cal Poly Pomona officers have had initial training on these tactics, and have a pre-scheduled joint-training exercise in June with the Pomona City Police Department.
The Cal Poly Pomona Police Department trains regularly with officers from local police departments, the Los Angeles County Fire Department and local emergency medical providers on how to work together in any major emergency situation.
In addition to the police department, the university has an emergency operations team, which is comprised of individuals from across campus. The university also has emergency management system in place that includes things to do before, during, and after an emergency.
The open nature of university campuses offer a challenge to public safety. Students, faculty, staff and visitors come and go without having to show identification, and without a check for weapons because universities are public areas, the police chief says.
If an attack were to happen on campus, Guerin says, witnesses should drop to the ground for cover and call the university's Police Department directly at (909) 869-3070. (911 calls by cell phones with California telephone numbers are dispatched to the California Highway Patrol, so it is recommended that people call university police dispatch directly.)
Though witnesses may have the urge to get involved and attempt to stop an assailant, this decision must be made with great care.
“Try to be a good witness, don't try to be a hero,” Guerin says.
Cal Poly Pomona's President Michael Ortiz and the Office of Public Affairs are committed to keeping the university community and the community at large as informed as possible if an event was to happen.
Counseling and Psychological Services are available to any students who are affected by Virginia Tech shootings. For more information contact CAPS at (909) 869-3220, Bldg. 66, Rm. 116.
Here are some sources of information you can check in case of a campus emergency:
- (866) 869-POLY – Call this hotline for a recorded message
- E-mail – Check your cpp.edu account for an announcement
- Internet – Get the latest information available on the university home page (www.cpp.edu)or PolyCentric (https://polycentric.cpp.edu)
- Campus electronic marquees – Look for appropriate messages
- University voicemail – If the Internet is down and you have a campus extension, try checking for a voicemail message
- Office of Public Affairs - Call for questions: (909) 869-3342
- In addition, your building marshal, university police, and/or other campus leadership may verbally update you on the emergency.