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Jacksonville University, JSO SWAT to hold hostage training exercise Thursday

Jacksonville University’s Department of Campus Security and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office will conduct a hostage training exercise on campus Thursday, July 26 — an event made more timely by recent events in Colorado.

The exercise begins at 10 a.m. and concludes at about 2 p.m. The Sheriff’s Office SWAT team and Hostage Negotiation Team will respond and be on campus, establishing a Command post in Parking Lot I, near the old tennis courts. Members of the Student Life staff have volunteered to participate as role players in the scenario.

“This exercise is very timely in light of the recent shootings in Colorado and the events at Episcopal High School earlier this year,” said Derek Hall, Vice President of University Relations. “Practice situations are the best way to prepare for events we hope never happen and are very valuable to our staff and JSO.”

The areas affected by this event include the Davis Student Commons and immediate area, Post Office, Baseball Complex and Parking Lot I.  There will be safety cones and caution tape in place to prevent uninvolved parties from entering into the exercise.

All communications, including the Campus Emergency Alert Announcement and JU website, will include live announcements concerning the exercise. In the event gunfire is heard, please be assured this IS NOT live gunfire. There will be simulation rounds being used by the Sheriff’s Office.  

The No. 1 priority is safety in these types of training events.  There will be safety monitors who will monitor the incident at all times. If you have any questions or concerns please contact Campus Security.

According to Gordon Bass, JU Director of Campus Security, active shooter/hostage situations have become all too frequent, and while Jacksonville University is a safe campus community, it is not immune to such a tragic event.

“We have a sound emergency response plan that provides guidance for responding to natural or manmade disasters. However, our plan can be measured in effectiveness by how well our responders are trained and put it into action through exercising its components,” he said. “The training exercise scheduled for Thursday will allow the Department of Campus Security to initiate our emergency plans, test the effectiveness of our response. It also affords us the opportunity to interact and coordinate our response with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in an effort to mitigate the effects of this type of horrific event should we find ourselves in this type of unfortunate incident.  We hope and pray we never do; however, it is critical for the safety and security of our campus community that we be prepared. This will also better familiarized Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office responders with our campus while providing SWAT and Hostage Negotiators valuable training to enhance the effectiveness of their response.”