Bomb Threats, Pepper Spray, Social Media, Oh My!
Mouse traps. Tuna cans. Baking soda.
What do all of these have in common? They can all be used to make a bomb.
As the rate of campus violence incidences on educational campuses across the country increases, it’s now more important than ever that the proper education and training is being relayed to those who keep campuses safe. And Fairfield University is doing just that.
From July 18 to July 24, the University's Department of Public Safety (DPS) hosted its seventh annual Campus Public Safety Officer Training Academy. Campus safety officers from high schools and higher education around the Northeast were in attendance, taking courses and training exercises in everything ranging from social media to bomb threat recognition.
Since the start of the Academy, Associate Director of Campus Public Safety Frank Ficko has seen demand grow for training from campus forces in the region.
“It’s all about the training,” said Ficko. “You can have the best policies and procedures in place, but if you don’t back it up by properly training your first responders, those procedures aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.”
It’s a grueling schedule. Each day starts at 7 a.m. with breakfast, then immediately into courses and training until 6 p.m. Some courses are physical, like the pepper spray course during which attendees were actually pepper sprayed. Some are in the classroom, like the social media course, where attendees learned how to use social media to their benefit, as well as some of the potentially damaging potential social media can have for students and campuses.
On Wednesday, July 22, one of the morning programs included a bomb recognition course. The special instructors, both of whom have over 20 years of bomb threat experience and education, brought “dummy” bombs to class. Participants learned how to see, feel, and recognize the bombs.
“Some of the public safety officers who attend are initially apprehensive and skeptical about the training program,” said Ficko. “But by then end of the week, they come to realize it was the best week of training they’ve ever received.”
With some attendees having over 20 years of experience in high schools, hospitals and corrections facilities, comments like those speak volumes to the continued success and strength of Fairfield University’s commitment to campus safety.
Above: A campus safety officer takes part in the Pepper Spray training course as part of a week-long academy at Fairfield University.