Queens College community gets active shooter response training

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New York Police Department’s SHIELD unit members, a counterterrorism program, visited Queens College on Nov. 18 to talk about campus safety and active shooters.

The event, held at Rosenthal Library 230, comes after many mass shootings across the country with over 290, according to an article from The Washington Post on Oct. 1.

Juan Colon is a junior majoring in political science and a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq. He said the event was a good idea in teaching students what to do.

“Even though my military background gives me the reassurance that I would know what to do if I were in a scenario like that, attending the program and seeing how big of a turnout it was gave me new information. The fact that my school and our community is doing its part to ready us for the unimaginable is encouraging,” Colon said.

Matthew DiPietro, an NYPD police officer for 15 years, spoke at the event. He spent three years with the counterterrorism division, tasked with responding to active shooters in New York City.

DiPietro currently works in the private sector to help deter, detect and identify terrorist activity in NYC as a member of SHIELD unit.

The SHIELD unit shares information with the private sector to achieve better security.

DiPietro advised existing systems can assist in responding to an emergency.

“You should be able to find out in real time what is going on your campus. Sign up for emails, sign up for CUNY alerts [and] whatever you have at your disposal,” DiPietro said.

DiPietro encouraged students and faculty members to abide by an ABC system: avoid, barricade and confront.

In addition, DiPietro urged students and faculty to know where exits and evacuation were. He informed students that most active shooter scenarios end within five to seven minutes.

“The first thing to do, if an active shooter event going on, is to not be there,” DiPietro said. “Do not use elevators and escalators because they provide you no alternative means to escape if confronted by an assailant.”

If unable to escape, DiPietro instructed students to find potential safe rooms to hide in.

“Lock the doors and place anything you can in front of the doors and make the area secure. Once the door is locked, do not open the door and wait for the police,” DiPietro said.

Confronting the aggressor or aggressors should only be done if there are no other options or if the person feels confident to stop the assailant, said DiPietro.

“Only if you have the mindset to do so, the last thing to do is confront the aggressor. Take whatever weapons you can, whether it’s a pen, chair, knife or computer monitor, and confront the bad guy,” DiPietro said.

Colon said he enjoyed the event and learned valuable tips, something he felt others should know.

“I believe that this program should be given on every campus in America at least once a year or every semester. Because the more people that are knowledgeable about this subject, the better prepared each community will be for a catastrophe that this country has fallen victim too far often,” Colon said.

Phil Vallone

Phil is a junior majoring in Political Science and minoring in Journalism. He is also a Marine Corps veteran who served in Afghanistan in 2013. He covers events and activism at CUNY. After graduating, he plans to cover politics and activism around the world. You can follow him on Twitter @philvallone or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/journophil. Contact him at philvallo[at]theknightnews.com

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