Editorial: Improving campus security is everyone’s responsibility, but more training, guidance needed

Screenshot of police report from Kirkland Police Department.

By Riley Sine and Talon editors

On Tuesday, September 25, a man walked into Hurst Library, interacted with several students, walked into the women’s restroom, and ultimately got into a fight with security.

According to a publicly available Kirkland Police Department report, the man “assaulted security personnel at Northwest University when they asked him to leave. [He] grabbed one security officer’s genitals, bit another security officer’s chest and pulled a knife from his pocket as he resisted the security’s attempts to restrain him.”

This incident is concerning, as it could very easily have turned out a lot worse. There are often jokes thrown around on campus that we live in a Christian bubble, isolated from “the world,” but this episode shows that there are some holes in that logic. It would be an alarming incident in and of itself, but it’s only the latest in a series of unsettling episodes.

Over the summer, there was an attempted break-in at the student apartments. Security reports describe a white male attempting to gain access to an apartment through a window around 11:40 p.m. on the night of August 9, before fleeing the scene when security arrived. Earlier in the year, another hooded male was spotted peeking through the window of a student apartment on the night of February 4. No harm has come to students as a result of any of these situations, but they highlight the necessity of having campus security officers, and of students needing to take appropriate measures to ensure their own safety.

First things first, if you don’t have the number for Campus Security (425-864-1552) saved in your phone, do it now. Security Officers are trained to respond to a variety of situations, and are an excellent resource.

“We are currently authorized to carry handcuffs and OC (pepper spray),” said Security Director Matthew Wilkinson. “In addition, we also carry radios to communicate with other members of the department, flashlights and gloves to protect against BBPs [blood-borne pathogens].”

A significant point on the student end of things is ALICE training. We absolutely need to be taking this training. I know it can be tedious to go through—speaking from experience, here—but it forces you to slow down and consider how to react to various incidents involving armed intruders and other dangerous situations. Yet according to a university employee with knowledge of the situation, only about 80 students completed the ALICE online training last year. Not 80 percent, eighty people. That’s an alarmingly low number, considering there are over 1500 students at NU.

And while there is a legitimate debate over whether or not security officers should carry more tools than they currently do, as students we don’t get to make that argument until we’re doing our part. The training only takes about a half hour, and it’s not that difficult. We don’t really have an excuse. Calling security is a good first step, but it will take them at least a minute or two to respond, so you have to know how to keep yourself safe in the meantime.

If you’ve taken the ALICE training, but you’re still looking to take matters into your own hands, there are a few options. One of the more obvious choices is to take a self-defense class. There are plenty of good options, and you can learn a few “tricks of the trade” (such as that your keys can be used as a weapon in a pinch) while coming away better prepared for a variety of dangerous encounters. And while I’m not going to tell you that you should start carrying pepper spray or a taser, I will note that the “Weapons, Fireworks and Explosives” section of the NU Student Handbook does not explicitly prohibit carrying either of them. We are of course a gun-free campus and students, faculty and staff (or visitors, for that matter) cannot carry firearms, concealed, locked in a trunk, or otherwise, while here.

As a general rule, make smart decisions. If something seems suspicious, call security (and the Kirkland Police, if necessary, via 911). Ensure the safety of yourself and those in your immediate vicinity as the first priority, and don’t engage in confrontation except as a last resort. Take the ALICE training and remember what that acronym stands for (it’s pretty easy, so take the training if you don’t know).

I pray it never comes to this, but following that training and making smart decisions just might save the lives of you and those around you. Security is ultimately all of our responsibility.

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