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Unlocked – The Palomar Lockdown

SAN MARCOS – Shots were heard near Palomar College. Was the school’s response adequate?

Due to reports of shots fired, the San Marcos campus of Palomar College was placed into lockdown on May 8, 2023. The shots were heard at Mission Sports Park on 931 Baily Court around 7:4,5 p.m., according to the San Diego Sheriff’s Department. There were no injuries and no arrests, although two bullets were found.

Good news, right? Well, here’s the bad news. A significant portion of people on campus received no alerts.

I personally received notifications, but I wasn’t at Palomar. I thought, “Glad I’m not there. Hope no one is hurt.” Reading initial reports claiming this event was unsubstantiated was reassuring. That is until I came back to campus.

Luckily, no shootings occurred on campus because there was no effective communication on locking down. Previously, notifications of drills were sent out via text and email in English and Spanish. This goes round the texts were solely in English.

Not everyone is constantly checking their email for a message that may just go to the junk folder anyway. And apparently, some of the texts went to defunct landlines. Message not received.

Also, did you know the PA system across campus is supposed to announce lockdowns? Everyone would have known if it had. And each classroom is supplied with an office phone that should display an alert to the same effect. They did not.

Due to the fact that there were drills previously, it is clear Palomar College has procedures in place. The college’s police department page contains instructions and an alarming Cal State video showing what to do in case of an active shooter.

In case this comes up again, and it probably will, the college instructs us to have a “survival mindset.” We need to be aware, prepare, and rehearse against active shooters.

If there’s an actual shooter, the page provides various instructions, such as running, hiding, and barricading the doors. Or fighting if it comes down to it. There needs to be a better way of solving problems than with fists.

The emergency information page states that the “District’s Director of Communication, Marketing, And Public Affairs will be responsible for the dissemination of emergency information to the larger community,” through its method list of email, Informacast, Blackboard Connect, web page, bullhorns, loudspeakers, social media, and electronic signs.

It is disappointing to find these measures were not effectively taken. However every failure is an opportunity to learn, and sadly we are likely to get another opportunity sooner or later.

It is a shame that students and staff would have to produce a makeshift garrison in an institution of higher learning. Although, even if all the precautions and procedures were followed as designed there is no guarantee of safety. The fact that they are necessary is the real issue.

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