Grace Gillespie, Staff Writer
It is not uncommon to see a police car driving through Saint Martin’s University. At first, one might assume something is wrong, when really, the police are just making a routine check-up on the school. They are able to provide such a service because the Lacey Police Department is located just off Baran Drive, adjacent to Saint Martin’s.
Will Stakelin, Director of Public Safety at Saint Martin’s, commented that, “Public safety and the university have a good relationship with police, [the] fire department and other first responders which helps us keep good -open- communications when they respond to campus. Public Safety trains together with our local first responders and they know our campus procedures really well.”
It is a good thing too, because there was recently a need for police activity on campus.
The Office of Public Safety sent out an emergency alert to all students, faculty, and staff on Jan. 16 at 2:43 p.m. The message was to notify those on campus that a modified lockdown had been put into effect. A lockdown occurs when there is a threat on campus; buildings are sealed, lights are turned off, and everyone is to remain in the safest location possible, while not making noise.
Modified lockdowns differ from traditional ones because life on campus continues in a normal fashion, albeit with sealed buildings and closed blinds. The situation, which prompted the Jan. 16 lockdown, was the presence of a wanted felon on campus.
As soon as the threat was identified, Lacey Police had officers on sight looking to contain any potential danger. The suspect was traveling by foot on the north end of the campus, an area many students will know from the retention ponds and walking trails. Police quickly had a drone in the air to track the suspect, and K-9 units for ground use. At 3:21 p.m. Public Safety issued an all clear announcement, letting everyone know that the suspect was believed to have left the proximity of campus, and there was no longer a threat.
Tatiana Crichton, a Saint Martin’s student said, “I was in class when it happened. My professor followed all procedural instructions. I would say I would be scared, but the police acted immediately.”
Stakelin shared that “[the] campus overall is well-prepared, but it comes down to each individual and them taking personal responsibility for following the steps and doing what’s necessary to be safe and help ensure the safety of others on campus.”
Following the incident, Public Safety sent out a school-wide email reviewing procedures for when there is an active or aggressive shooter on campus, and congratulated everyone involved on the way the crisis was handled.