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Procedures for Response to Hostile Situations at James Madison University

Over the past several years, there has been a dramatic increase in not only the number of violent acts committed against members of school campuses across the country, but also in the severity of these acts. While we at James Madison University have been fortunate not to have experienced such an occurrence, it is prudent and responsible to set forth procedures in reference to the response and management of a hostile intruder incident. Although the probability of such an incident occurring on the campus is minimal, it is our intent to make information available to our community so that you might increase your chances of survival in a hostile intruder encounter.

In the event that a person(s) threatens the personal safety of members of the James Madison University community, the University Police Department would like you to be aware of the attached guidelines for hostile intruder situations. These guidelines are divided into two sections. Each of the sections reference response and management procedures for either a residence hall or a non-residence hall environment.

Hostile Intruder in a Non-Residence Hall

When a hostile person(s) is actively causing death or serious bodily injury or the threat of imminent death or serious bodily injury to person(s) within a building, we recommend the following procedures be implemented.

While the guide refers primarily to academic buildings, it should be stated that these procedures are also relevant to administrative buildings and other common buildings on the campus:

  • Faculty should immediately lock the students and themselves in the classroom. If possible cover any windows or openings that have a direct line of sight into the hallway

  • If communication is available, call 8-6911.

  • Do not sound the fire alarm. A fire alarm would signal the occupants to evacuate the building and thus place them in potential harm as they attempted to exit.

  • Lock the windows and close blinds or curtains.

  • Stay away from the windows.

  • Turn off lights and all audio equipment.

  • Try to remain as calm as possible.

  • Keep everyone together.

  • Keep classrooms secure until police arrive and give you directions.

  • If you are not in a classroom, try to get to a classroom or an office.

  • Stay out of open areas and be as quiet as possible.

  • If for some reason you are caught in an open area such as a hallway or lounge, you must decide what you are going to do. This is a very crucial time and it can possibly mean life or death.

    1. You can try to hide, but make sure it is a well-hidden space or you may be found as the intruder moves through the building looking for victims.

    2. If you think you can safely make it out of the building by running, then do so. If you decide to run, do not run in a straight line. Attempt to keep objects such as, desks, cabinets, fixtures, etc… between you and the hostile person(s). Once outside, do not run in a straight line. Use trees, vehicles and other objects to block you from the view of intruders. When away from the immediate area of danger, summon help any way you can and warn others.

    3. If the person(s) are causing death or serious physical injury to others and you are unable to run or hide you may choose to play dead if other victims are around you.

    4. Your last option if you are caught in an open area in a building may be to fight back. This is dangerous, but depending on your situation, this could be your last option.

    5. If you are caught by the intruder and are not going to fight back, obey all commands and don't look the intruder in the eyes.

    6. Once the police arrive, obey all commands. This may involve your being handcuffed, or keeping your hands in the air. This is done for safety reasons and once circumstances are evaluated by the police, they will give you further directions to follow.


Hostile Intruder(s) in a Residence Hall

When a hostile person (s) is actively causing deadly harm or the imminent threat of deadly harm within the residence hall, we recommend the following procedures be implemented:

  • Lock yourself in your room.

  • If communication is available, call 8-6911.

  • If away from your room, join others in a room that can be locked.

  • Don't stay in the open hall.

  • Do not sound the fire alarm. A fire alarm would signal the occupants in the rooms to evacuate the building and thus place them in potential harm as they attempted to exit.

  • Barricade yourself in your room with desks, beds or anything you can push against the door.

  • Lock your window and close blinds or curtains.

  • Stay away from the window

  • Turn all lights and audio equipment off.

  • Try to stay calm and be as quiet as possible.

  • If for some reason you are caught in the open such as hallways and lounge type areas, you must decide what you are going to do. This is a very crucial time and can possibly mean life or death depending on what actions you take.

    1. You can try to hide, but make sure it is a well hidden space or you may be found as the intruder moves through the dorm looking for more victims.

    2. If you think you can safely make it out of the building by running, then do so. If you decide to run, do not run in a straight line. Keep any objects you can between you and the hostile person (s) while in the building. Once outside, don't run in a straight line. Use trees, vehicles or any type of object to block your view from the residence hall as you run. When away from the immediate area of danger, summon help any way you can and warn others.

    3. If the person(s) are causing death or serious physical injury to others and you are unable to run or hide you may choose to play dead if other victims are around you.

    4. The last option you have if caught in an open area in the dorm maybe to fight back. This is dangerous, but depending on your situation, this could be your last option.

    5. If you are caught by the intruder and are not going to fight back, obey all commands and don't look the intruder in the eyes.

    6. Once the police arrive, obey all commands. This may involve your being handcuffed or made to put your hands in the air. This is done for safety reasons and once circumstances are evaluated by the police, they will give you further directions to follow.


Hostile Intruder(s) on the Campus Grounds of the University

When a hostile person(s) is actively causing death or serious physical injury or the threat of imminent death or serious physical injury to person(s) on the grounds of James Madison University, we recommend the following procedures be implemented.

  • Run away from the threat if you can, as fast as you can.

  • Do not run in a straight line.

  • Keep vehicles, bushes, trees and anything that could possibly block your view from the hostile person (s) while you are running.

  • If you can get away from the immediate area of danger, summon help and warn others.

  • If you decide to hide, take into consideration the area in which you are hiding. Will I be found here? Is this really a good spot to remain hidden?

  • If the person(s) are causing death or serious physical injury to others and you are unable to run or hide you may choose to play dead if other victims are around you.

  • The last option you have if caught in an open area outside may be to fight back. This is dangerous, but depending on your situation, this could be your last option.

  • If you are caught by the intruder and you are not going to fight back, do not look the intruder in the eyes and obey all commands.

  • Once the police arrive, obey all commands. This may involve your being handcuffed or made to put your hands in the air. This is done for safety reasons and once circumstances are evaluated by the police, they will give you further directions to follow.

This training guide cannot cover every possible situation that might occur, but it is a training tool that can reduce the number of injuries or death if put into action as soon as a situation develops. Time is the most important factor in the optimal management of these types of situations.

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