The emergency exercise Cleveland State University Department of Campus Safety conducted March 13 on the second and third floors of Berkman Hall involved around 80 people during the approximate four-hour event.
In a school-wide email regarding the spring break activity, the university notified students and faculty of the exercise. Other than the email, not much information was shared about the specifics of the exercise.
Lieutenant Beverly Pettrey of the Cleveland State Police Department, who is also the supervisor of the Offices of Emergency Management and Environmental Health and Safety, said the exercise was to prepare for an active shooter on campus and that the exercise involved more than just the campus police.
“The scenario was an active shooter on campus,” Pettrey said. “Those that were involved were CSU police, (and) we had actors from Traumatic Players of Cleveland … about 20 of those actors, and about 15 volunteers,” Pettrey said. “The County Emergency Management Agency was there too, and they helped us evaluate our actions. We also involved our CSU senior leadership and they kind of played along as well.”
The university senior leadership on hand for the exercise was President Harlan Sands and his leadership team.
With the actors, loud noises, and extensive police response, an active shooter drill is a rather large operation that can cause a scene. Pettrey said the decision to conduct the drill when there would not be many people on campus was for a reason.
“We planned this exercise during spring break in order to keep the campus safe and reduce unnecessary panic,” Pettrey said.
Although the exercise was mainly to test the Cleveland State Police response to this type of situation, Pettrey said that it also helped test the preparedness of other Campus Safety operations, which involves more than just the Police Department.
“Not only did we test the actual response of our police to an incident like that, we then continued the exercise on to test our emergency operations center, which involved the CSU leadership team,” Pettrey said.
Pettrey explained that the Cuyahoga County Office of Emergency Management evaluated the university Police during the exercise. The Department of Campus Safety is getting together the results and will present them to university leadership, but overall their actions were quick and effective.
“The Cuyahoga County Office of Emergency Management evaluated our response and recovery actions,” Pettrey said. “We are still compiling that information and will present the results to CSU leadership later this month. Overall, our response was quick and we stopped the shooter.”
Pettrey wants everyone on campus to know that their safety is important to the department, and these types of exercise are part of their preparation. Their officers are trained annually on how to respond to active shooter incidents.
“The safety of our campus is of the upmost importance and our department takes these exercises very seriously,” Pettrey said. “Our officers are trained every year on the latest active shooter response tactics.”