On Tuesday, March 1, the Bellevue Police Department assisted the college in a lockdown drill in rooms T 208 and T 308, the Health Sciences, Education and Wellness Institute offices in the T building. Police officers entered the building and initiated the lockdown as if there was actually an intruder. Bellevue College staff locked themselves in rooms in their offices while one officer walked door-to-door and “extracted” each room, one at a time. From there the officer would send each person, with their hands up, to a corner of the office where the other officers were waiting to keep everybody in one place.
Lockdown drills are important because as Kayla Grayson of the BC Public Safety department said, “Although there is no immediate threat to Bellevue College, we should be prepared in the event that a dangerous intruder enters our campus.” Despite hosting a drill in the Academic Success Center on Feb. 29, this is the first lockdown drill with the police involved. Bellevue College has been attempting to strengthen relationships with local first responders.
According to Grayson, “Involving BPD in the lockdown drills allows us to practice emergency response as a team, as well as provide our campus community with a realistic expectation of police response during an incident.” This is also designed to further prepare the college for an event involving an intruder. On top of that, Grayson said that having police do the extraction is more professional and realistic than when the Public Safety department would do it in other drills.
Dr. Leslie Heizer Newquist, dean of the Health Sciences, Education and Wellness Institute, elaborated by saying that the HSEWI department is committed to “the ongoing safety of staff and students.” According to Dr. Newquist, preparation and practice for emergencies is a big part of being safe. Because of this, they make sure to do one safety-related drill each quarter, this being the second lockdown drill.
This particular drill focused on only the staff aspect of the building, as requested by the department. Grayson stated that the Public Safety department is looking to do more drills involving students in the future, but having drills that involve staff and faculty will help as they are generally looked to for instruction during an emergency. Newquist also stated that during the spring quarter, they plan to do a full evacuation of the T building, including classrooms with students and faculty. Along with lockdown drills, people can attend one of the few Dangerous Intruder trainings on campus. Hosted through Student Programs, the next one is to be held on March 17.