Washburn Police teach students about active shooter safety

Brenden Williams

Washburn Police Director Dean Forster has given over 30 speeches to Washburn students and faculty regarding the response to an active shooter on campus as well as the cost of making Washburn gun free again.

Forster, with over 30 years of police experience in both the Highway Patrol and Topeka Police Department has been researching what it would cost to give buildings on Washburn’s campus what the state has defined as “adequate security”, he has also been helping students and faculty develop a response to an active shooter situation.

Forster estimated that for each major door to a major building on campus, it would cost approximately $190,000 to $400,000 per door, the costs coming from new officers that would be stationed at each door, metal detectors or wands to detect any weapon, and other security details, some of which would be yearly costs, some would be one time costs that would need to be repaired or replaced every few years.

Forster spoke with the Washburn Student Government Association and has talked to many other organizations regarding how to handle an active shooter situation as well.

“Active shooters are here for no other reason than to kill you,” said Forster. “That’s all they’re here for, and they don’t even know you. They’re just here to kill as many people as they can until the police intervene or someone intervenes. It’s also very important for them to understand that if there is an active shooter on campus there’s only three things you can do; you can run, you can hide or you can fight. To sit there and cry and scream is only gonna get you killed.”

Forster also said that students should be aware of their surroundings at all times, how doors work, what could be used for defense in case of a shooter, and the difference between cover and concealment.

“Be cognizant of where they are, of how the doors open,” said Forster. “That door may be the only thing between you and that active shooter. So we teach students to be aware of where they are. We teach them to look inside themselves to see what they can do, do you think you could hit [an active shooter] with my phone? These are the things we need to think about, and these are the things that we teach them. I want you to understand what you may have to do.”

Forster said they have 17 officers employed at the Washburn University Police Department, all with the same training and equipment as a Topeka Police Department officer would have, complete with bikes, cars, and any equipment needed to handle normal crimes as well as the possibility of an active shooter.

Forster and his officers have been involved in teaching students safety measures when regarding different situations but his most recent presentations have been focused on active shooter situations.

“We have people who are aware of it,” said Forster. “We do have people interacting with students.That’s the only reason I’m here; for the students.”