College’s first lockdown drill a team effort

STORY BY GRAEME FRISQUE VIDEOS BY ADAM BUCK, DEVON GENERAL, MATTHEW LOWE, GREG LONGLEY
PHOTOS BY JON D. CLARKE, GRAEME FRISQUE, GREG LONGLEY, MAXINE LOWE, ROBERT MOODIE, TAYLOR SHAPPERT

Those entering the SCAET building Monday morning found themselves locked down during an unprecedented simulation and training exercise involving students being killed and gunmen holding hostages on campus.

The lockdown drill, designed both as a police training exercise and to test Sheridan’s emergency preparedness, lasted roughly 20 minutes and involved police playing villains, fake guns firing blanks and theatre students playing victims in full costume and special effects makeup.

[This exercise] is to make people aware of what to do, to test our system, to make our systems work better and to find out if there is anything wrong with those systems. It is to help us work better with police and to help police train better,” said Sheridan director of Security Michael Burjaw last week.

The exercise involved eight police officers and nearly 100 Sheridan students and staff from numerous programs including Police Foundations, Theatre and Drama Studies, and Special Effects Makeup Design. Journalism students covered the drill live and attended a mock press conference following the drill.

The script called for 15 fatalities, 10 wounded students and a healthy dose of fake blood scattered throughout SCAET.  The lecture hall in S235 was repurposed two hours before the drill in preparation for the event. The mood was far removed from emotions that a real lockdown would have seen. Volunteer students could be heard laughing and comparing “wounds” as Special Effects Makeup students worked together to make the players and event look realistic.

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It was the first drill of its kind for both Sheridan and Halton Police.

“To my knowledge this is the first time we’ve done something like this in a public venue. We run lockdown drills through the high schools, but never actually involving the students, they are always in lockdown mode. This is the first time it’s been interactive with people with makeup and everything,” said Sgt. Barry Hughes.

After the public address warning students to get into lockdown mode, two police officers disguised as shooters entered the building firing off blanks as they made their way through SCAET.

The four officers partaking in the police-training portion of the exercise followed shortly thereafter and began clearing rooms as student actors directed them to the fourth floor where the “bad guys” had taken a hostage. Once upstairs the officers were able to regain control of the situation in fairly short order.

The Sheridan Production House filmed the entire exercise and a video of the event will be produced. According to campus officials, the video may be used for training or promotional purposes in the future, but no decisions in that regard have yet been made.

While campus security will take the next week to review the event, according to Burjaw, some shortcomings in security procedures were immediately evident. Most notably, what to do with students who are stuck and locked out of safe areas after the lockdown has already commenced?

While Sheridan holds lockdown drills every year, campus officials have no immediate plans to repeat the dramatization in future exercises.

On Tuesday afternoon, soon after thesheridansun.ca posted its coverage of Monday’s staged lockdown, Print Journalism faculty members were requested to remove the video and many of the photos depicted student actors posing as victims. The Sun’s coverage of the event had been prearranged and cleared with college and police officials a week prior to the drill, and no restrictions or stipulations were placed on the content prior to publication.

Although the video and photo gallery of students wearing fake blood and wounds were clearly labelled as “staged” or part of the “mockdown”, college officials feared they might be disturbing to some local residents, parents and students and may negatively affect the college’s image.

 

[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]The Sheridan Sun’s Feb. 14, 2008 issue recounts the day Sheridan was under lockdown – and it was not a drill. On a Friday afternoon just after 2 p.m. Sheridan security called Halton Police and reported that a male wearing a camouflage jacket was seen walking around campus carrying what looked like a long-barrelled gun. More than three hours later, the man was discovered to be carrying a camera tripod.
False Alarm Gives Sheridan A Real Scare
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3 Responses to College’s first lockdown drill a team effort

  1. Kara December 2, 2013 at

    The school had absolutely no issue going through with this despite the student outcry. Students talked to people in charge of this and let their concerns be known, but security blew us off and said that it wasn’t an issue. Now it is?

    Maybe you should have listened to us when we said that it was going to tarnish the school’s reputation and how students felt about going to classes, especially when it was done barely a week after a 22-year-old was shot to death by police officers near Upper Middle.

    Reply
  2. Anonymous November 27, 2013 at

    I’m mad as hell that the video was taken down. Not a single word was said to anyone beforehand that video shouldn’t be taken. Nobody from security said anything. Nobody in the media recording team said anything. Nobody that was acting said anything. Nobody from administration said anything. Nobody from the police said anything. Not a single complaint was uttered as the cameras were being set up. The guys shooting the video even said they were setting up cameras to take video, and there was no problem.

    It’s only after the fact that the Sheridan administration has reared its ugly head and cried foul. Complaints that it’s too shocking, bad editorial decisions were made, people might get scared, or it might scare away prospective students from applying.

    If the administration was so concerned about those things, why make it so realistic in the first place? Why were student actors a part of the drill, screaming and yelling and pretending to be shot? What’s with all the fake blood and gunshot wounds? Why have police armed with replica weapons shoot blanks and cause gunshots to ring out in SCAET’s hallways? You’d think that if they were really concerned about those things, they wouldn’t have decided to turn a drill into a re-enactment in the first place.

    I seriously hope that this decision is not an illustration of the administration’s stance towards freedom of Sheridan’s press. Students shouldn’t accept this departure from common sense and sanity.

    Reply
  3. Adam Buck November 27, 2013 at

    Censoring the truth is not a reasonable course of action. As a news publication, it is the responsibility of The Sheridan Sun to inform the student body what unfolds in their school. If there was a problem with the video content, the concern lays with decisions made by the administration and/or police department, not reporters who are simply doing their jobs.

    Reply

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