One year later: Oregon shooting spurs increased security at SRJC


Will Mathis

SRJC District Police Lieutenant Robert Brownlee discusses what to do in an active shooter situation in an Aug. 19 workshop.

Luke Straub, Staff Writer

A community college shooting last October shocked the Santa Rosa Junior College campus, leading to a town hall meeting that called for more extensive security training at SRJC.

A 26-year-old student fatally injured nine people at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon on Oct. 1, 2015 before taking his own life. The massacre acted as the impetus for a revamped ‘Active Shooter’ workshop at the college faculty’s fall professional development day held Aug. 19.

The SRJC community asked for more training at a town hall meeting last fall.

“I believe that because [the shooting] was a community college, it really had a response here in our college community,” said SRJC District Police Lieutenant Robert Brownlee. “I think it hit a nerve.”

The school considered outside help to perform the workshop but decided Brownlee should lead the operation.

“I said ‘you know we can do this.’ We can do this internally, and it’s going to be good training provided by a community’s own police department,” Brownlee said.

The district police are equipped to handle such a workshop, with officers trained in defensive tactics and firearms.

“To have the staff come together and do this type of training, it was very rewarding,” Brownlee said.

The workshop explored survival decisions for an active shooter on campus.

“I learned many things,” said media instructor Jeffrey Diamond. “Including the importance of having a plan anytime [a shooter] is on campus, knowing where your exits are and knowing when to run, hide or fight.”

Faculty learned when to fight with the help of SRJC cadets. “Cadets throughout the day came in and basically role-played the bad guys,” Brownlee said.

Brownlee’s staff taught the faculty how to physically take down a perpetrator.

“When you’re confronted with an individual that is intent to destroy you, it’s time to be violent,” Brownlee said. “Not only is it appropriate, but you have to do so as if your life depended on it, because it does.”

In past years, before the Umpqua shooting, SRJC conducted a yearly workshop that consisted of a presentation and 20-minute video. Things changed after the shooting.

“People were shaken by it,” Brownlee said.

The future of the latest incarnation of SRJC’s Active Shooter workshop is in question. The district police are waiting for more feedback from the college’s professional development team.

“The staff maintained the seriousness of the situation but did so in a very positive and enjoyable way,” Diamond said.

“My hope is that we can develop something that is in stages,” Brownlee said. “So that we have a presentation that would be your entry level, just to get the idea. Then the next level, which would be hands on, and then maybe develop something else like that at a third level.”

Concerns from SRJC’s community turned into real action for the district police and faculty.

“The community really came together. There were a lot of things that were identified. A lot of things that, district wide, I think we’re trying to do to make the campus safer,” Brownlee said.