College hosts violent intruder training

Story by Laura Canida

Few people will ever face an active shooter in the school or workplace. However, it is important to know what to do if you find yourself in a potentially threatening situation.

College Safety hosted a “Violent Intruder Response Training” on Thursday, Jan. 30. The 90-minute training was led by Lt. Anthony Kollias of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team; more than 80 Clackamas Community College employees and students attended.

“Our hope is when you leave at the end of the day, we don’t want you to leave afraid. We want you to leave a little more confident,” said Tom Sonoff, CCC’s Director of College Safety.

Kollias presented three tactics to use in a violent incident: Identifying the issue, intervention and surviving an incident. He also provided attendees with the knowledge and skills to minimize the loss of life in the event of an aggressive intruder.

The first thing to do is assess whether or not you can run and escape the situation, if you know you can safely evacuate without coming into contact with the threat. The next option is to hide if escaping isn’t safe; barricade access to your space, hide, silence your devices and stay as quiet as possible.

If the intruder is in your classroom and you can’t get away, “You need to fight like the third monkey on Noah’s Ark,” Kollias said.

As a last resort — only if the first two strategies fail — fight. Act aggressively toward the person creating the threatening situation using whatever weapons are available to you at that time. Kollias suggested gouging out someone’s eyes, going for the groin or throwing something at the intruder.

Many items commonly found around campus and on your person can be used as weapons including scissors, fire extinguishers, chairs, tools, broken glass, staplers, heavy backpacks and water bottles. His presentation on the gruesome reality of mass shootings was punctuated with funny stories and one liners. For example, if you don’t have a weapon, he said to use a pen or pencil. “Guess what those are? Awesome stabbing devices.”

As the world around us changes, the increase in critical incidents and active shooter events could cause worry and stress. That’s why Kollias said it’s good to have a plan. “If you visualize a plan before you need it, it will be easier to implement if needed.”

Knowing what to do if you’re in a violent intruder situation will help you. He said it might be terrifying, and that to be able to be successful, you should practice in your mind.

“You’ll never do it if you don’t visualize it first,” said Kollias. “It’s going to be scary, but it’s going to be way less scary with a plan in your head.”

Kollias said the way that the community can help this problem is by paying attention and practicing situational awareness. When you walk into Starbucks, for example, look around and see what everyone is doing. “It might make you feel uneasy but there’s a reason for it.”

Kollias also said if someone in your life is showing behavioral changes or making threats, take away his or her guns. “We can’t take away your guns, but you can,” he said.

Kollias said once a month we have fire drills in Oregon schools, but lockdowns are only twice a year. “We don’t want to talk about what the real problem is,” he said. He attributed the rise in violent shootings to everything from working parents, a lack of mental health services and violent video games.

“When I was a kid we had Pong.”

For further information contact Tom Sonoff, Director of College Safety at 503-594-1698 or by email at thomas.sonoff@clackamas.edu.