A bomb and gun attack on a college in Kerch, Crimea killed at least 19 people and wounded dozens more about two weeks ago. The shooter was 18-year-old Vladislav Roslyakov, a fourth-year student at the college, who took his own life at the end of his rampage.
Massive casualties at the hands of students have become second-nature news stories that cause nothing more than a double-take for most people. Stories are not even guaranteed to jerk any heads if these events take place in people’s own towns, but people are forced to acknowledge it when it happens to them.
Texas Woman’s University’s Chief of Police, Samuel Garrison, considers these possibilities as a part of his job. Working for the TWU police department for seven years and serving a year and a half of that time as chief, he has witnessed the recent wave of mass causalities on college campuses like the one in Crimea.
“We work with other local, state and federal agencies to prevent and respond to incidents, if needed,” Garrison said.
Handling these situations can be a little more difficult than knowing how to react in such a circumstance. An article from BBC News outlines different suggestions of Roslyakov’s motives for the attack. While his motives “remain unclear”, according to BBC, there are numerous suggestions that he had become hostile towards the college and wanted revenge. This is where preventative measures become a player in preparedness.
“DPS works to recognize the usual campus community and identify the presence of the unusual,” Garrison said. “Engagement with the campus community is an important act of prevention.”
According to many different sources (especially the local press), Roslyakov’s mass killing has been referred to as “Russia’s Columbine”, a reference to America’s 1999 high school massacre. Because of this, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that the Crimean tragedy was a result of globalization and the poor example set by schools in the U.S. Regardless of the validity of President Putin’s statement, Roslyakov showed signs long before the shooting that went without action.
“Early recognition of someone in crisis is crucial to responding to a perceived threat before it becomes an active threat,” Garrison said.
The community’s initiative in their own preparedness is also a key component in prevention of these events. Nobody wants to consider the fact that they could end up in a similar position, but the police department is not the only entity that can be thinking about these situations.
“I recommend that the campus community take advantage of the variety of programs that are hosted by the DPS Special Services Division,” Garrison said. “This division hosts a variety of crime prevention activities throughout the year for our campus community.”