Matthew Pariselli, Javon Walker and Eric Wickham
At 10:10 a.m. Thursday, an announcement over the Humber North P.A. system directed students and staff to comply with specified lockdown practices outlined on information boards in classrooms.
The guidelines advise people to enter an enclosed safe space, lock the door, cover windows and lie on the floor or crouch beneath a desk.
It is these last two that particularly concern police.
Lockdown officer Tony Santeramo said instructions to crouch beneath a desk is a misstep that led to several fatalities in the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in which 12 students and one teacher were killed in Colorado.
He said the students who lost their lives in Columbine were “sitting ducks” under their desks, especially in wide open spaces like a library or a study hall.
Observing the mock lockdown exercises at Humber, Santeramo said locking doors, hiding and getting out of plain sight is of the utmost importance.
Taking coverage beneath a desk is not sufficient protection, and the key is to find a spot you will not be seen..
The lockdown elicited mixed reactions from students.
Not all members of the college community demonstrated concern or even responded to the procedure.
Some students were indifferent to the exercise, unfazed by the orders rung out over the P.A. system and by security officials monitoring the operation.
Toronto Police Constable Ryan Willmer addressed the students who seemed unmoved by the efforts of the college’s Department of Public Safety.
“They think it’s a joke. All you have to do is go up to them and kind of educate them. It’s all about education. I’m not going to say most students are ignorant to the fact but they don’t really take it seriously until something real happens,” he said.
“Our goal is to get them to realize it before something real happens.”
Rob Kilfoyle, director of public safety at Humber College, echoed the sentiments.
“We do want them to think about if there was a real situation where they would go and what they would do,” he said.
Kilfoyle stressed the importance of safety throughout the process.
“Our instructions to folks are to do what makes them feel safe,” he said.
“People feel safe in different ways. We encourage people to participate in the exercises.
“But there are those who say, ‘No, I’m good. I’m safe where I’m at.’” We’re not going to strong-arm them and force them into rooms.”
The Department of Public Safety did due diligence by instructing people on the protocol to follow.
Humber College has a video detailing lockdown protocol in the event of an armed attacker.
There are more mock lockdowns scheduled at Humber North for Saturday, Nov. 14 and Tuesday, Nov. 17.
Willmer said both upcoming lockdowns will include the presence of a simulated assailant.