Recent events raise public, campus safety concerns

In the first week of November, the United States experienced an airport shooting, an airport bomb threat, and an armed individual in a New Jersey mall and a university lockdown. The events sparked discussion about public safety across social media sites. Are people overreacting, or are they not concerned enough?

Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, went into Los Angeles International airport Nov. 1 with an assault rifle. He killed a Transportation Security Administration officer and wounded two others. The Los Angeles Times reports local and federal officials are trying to determine whether further improvement is needed for airport defenses.

That same night, Richard Shoop, 20, carried a gun into a Garden State Mall in New Jersey. The New York Times interviewed witnesses who saw him clothed entirely in black with a motorcycle helmet. People panicked and ran for cover, but the only person he shot was himself. Authorities found his body in part of the mall that was under construction. Friends and family say he was suffering from depression and drug abuse.

According to Reuters, an employee at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport found a note in a bathroom Nov. 3 announcing a bomb was located in the terminal. The airport was shut down for over two hours. Flights were delayed or diverted as police and search dogs combed the building. No bomb was found. Officials are still investigating the note.

Central Connecticut State University went into lockdown Nov. 4 after an armed individual was spotted on campus. The suspect, David Kyem, was caught and charged with first-degree criminal trespassing. He was wearing a ninja Halloween costume, and carried an air gun and plastic sword.

When asked about public safety around UAA campus, Russian language major Anne-Marie Burnelle said, “Around the Goose lake area, it’s super sketchy. But I think the buildings are OK. … One time I was rollerblading and somebody flashed me. It was a guy. He had his pants down. … I got really scared, almost ran into a rock.”

Psychology major Madchen Wausen said, “Even though there’s a no-carry rule, I highly think people are carrying (guns) — if not on them, at least in vehicles. This is Alaska, after all.”

- Advertisement -

The University Police Department is in charge of campus safety. They unlock and lock building doors every night, can be seen cruising around campus in marked patrol cars, and are located in the Eugene Short Hall Room 114. They have incident action plan PDFs for employees and students on the UPD homepage. The documents include what to do in natural disasters, when an active shooter is on campus and when suspicious package/substances are found.

UAA employees concerned with safety on campus can participate in the UPD Auxiliary Team. Auxiliary Team members typically meet once a month. They are trained how to properly evacuate buildings, control crowds and participate in searches.

For further information, call UPD at 907-786-1120. For emergencies, 911 is still strongly encouraged.