In light of a recent shooting at a community college in Oregon – and bomb threats made to Front Range Community College’s Boulder-County and Larimer campuses — safety concerns are high on the minds of many on campus.
More recently, Fort Collins Police arrested David Moscow, a student who had recently reapplied to the Larimer campus, alarming staff with troubling behavior. He was charged with educational interference, possession of weapons by a previous offender, possession of large capacity magazines and possession of narcotics while in possession of a weapon. Police reported that they found a semi-automatic weapon in his apartment with several hundred rounds of ammunition as well as some illegal narcotics.
Moscow had previously made threats describing potential violent actions he might take if he were not readmitted to the college. College officials contacted police, who began an investigation that subsequently led to the man’s arrest.
Andy Dorsey, president of Front Range Community College, has assigned staff to closely follow the case and has been sending regular emails updating the community. The Larimer campus briefly went into lockdown a few weeks ago when Mr. Moscow drove past the campus, his ankle bracelet triggering an alarm with the police.
These events and other school shootings have spurred Front Range Community College security officers to review campus safety precautions to ensure they are up-to-date.
“We continually review events from across the country to see what changes in operations and communications we should look at,” said Gordon Goldsmith, director of campus security in an email to the Front Page.
Goldsmith said student safety is a top priority at Front Range Community College.
“We constantly review best practices in higher [education] security, we conduct site safety assessments using a national model, we have greatly improved our relationships with our local police departments,” he said. “Leadership has financed a large investment in our security infrastructure, we have improved our internal and external communication systems including exterior speakers at each campus.”
Goldsmith said that the college has expanded drills to include a lockout drill, where students, faculty and staff learn the best way to shelter in place. Front Range Community College will conduct a lockdown drill at each campus next semester.
The security team said they are investing ample time in learning the best safety practices and the most beneficial courses of action in events of emergency.
Professors are being asked to undergo additional security training to pass along to the students.
“President Dorsey has been listening and has tasked our department with providing additional training, presentations and resource material,” Goldsmith said, “This has already been instituted with the Standard Response Protocol video that is now on our Campus Safety and Security website and we have scheduled SRP presentations at each campus that have already started.”
However, some students report feeling less-than-informed about what to do in an emergency.
“The first day of class, my professors mentioned reporting sketchy students, but that’s about it,” said Becky Lafond, a student at Front Range Community College.
In an effort to identify potentially dangerous students and eliminate problems before they occur, Front Range Community College has created a process where faculty, staff and students can report a “student of concern.”
“The student consultation team supports students and also instructors and faculty members when it comes to working with students of concern,” said Aaron Prestwich, dean of students at Front Range Community College.
When students or staff members encounter a disconcerting student, they can access a student of concern form through eWolf.
The student consultation team then analyzes the report and develops an appropriate course of action. However, the form is not limited to students making threats.
“It could be about a student that is struggling personally, a student who needs some community or campus resources, or a student who is struggling behaviorally,” Prestwich said, arguing that the form is an easy way to notify school officials about troubling behaviors.
According to the Front Range Community College website, “The Student Consultation Team uses nationally established assessment tools and best-practices to respond to each student on a case-by-case basis.” At the Westminster Campus and Brighton Center combined, the student consultation team consists of nine members with various specializations. Members include a mental health counselor, the security supervisor, and an academic advisor. Each member holds a specific skill necessary to assisting the various needs of reported students.
“The goal of the team is to reach out and provide help to students before they reach crisis mode,” Prestwich said. Therefore, the student consultation team tries to decrease the risk of an actual emergency occurring.
“Often times,” Prestwich said, “there are signs before an emergency occurs.”
Fortunately the likelihood of an incident at Front Range Community College is slim, statistically speaking.
“In the recent past, we’ve never come across a student that’s made any direct threats to the campus community,” Prestwich said. The uncertainty always looms, but preparedness and planned action are keys to stopping emergencies.
College officials told the Front Page the college has adequately prepared itself for an emergency.
“Completely preventing a violent attack is difficult,” Prestwich said, “We try to prevent it as much as we reasonably can, through prevention in the student consultation team and also through training from campus security.”
However student awareness about emergency response is low. Although the student consultation team regularly meets and evaluates problems, a significant amount of students remain oblivious to its existence.
“I’ve honestly never heard of a student of concern report,” Lafond said. She said that she wouldn’t hesitate to file one if she felt uneasy about another student.
The student consultation prevents every emergency that it can, while the Goldsmith and the security team stands guard against those that slip through the team’s capable hands.
Students can find web links to a flyer and video that summarize the four standard response protocols that the college uses in case of an emergency. Both of these resources are on the Front Range Community College web page, under “Being a Student” and then “Campus Safety.”
Written Summary of Emergency Response Protocols: http://www.frontrange.edu/docs/default-source/Being-a-Student/safety-security/emerg-procedures-poster.pdf?sfvrsn=0
Written by Kayla Klein
Originally published in the print edition on November 11, 2015