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Is FAMU prepared for a terrorist attack?

By Darrion Kirnes
On January 29, 2015

Over the past few months around the world, there have been terrorist attacks involving lone wolf gunmen. With a rise in these type of attacks, fear of terrorism is at an all time high in America.

Historically Black Universities, such as Florida A&M University are not ideal targets for a terrorist. However, one saturday evening, FAMU experienced a possible threat via Facebook when a student from Louisiana operating under the alias “Jhn Hdsn” warned that people will “perish” unless FAMU President Elmira Magnum contacted him by his 9 p.m deadline.

Fortunately, Hdsn was apprehended without incident in the School of Architecture and Engineering building. However, the incident caused me to raise the question: Is FAMU adequately prepared for a terrorist attack?

Terence Calloway, chief of The FAMU's Department of Public Safety, believes FAMU's police department has been provided proper training in case of a crisis.

“We have had some training dealing with terrorist, but again this wasn't a terrorist attack or any other attack,” Calloway said of the incident. “Our officers have had some FEMA training but not specifically terrorist training. ““We would alert our students, faculty and staff via blackboard connect, which I encourage ALL students to sign up for. We would contact other agencies for mutual aide like the FBI, CIA, FEMA and other law enforcement agencies. We would establish a command center and address the issue at hand. It is very difficult to give you a play by play because every situation has a different approach to resolution.”

However, some FAMU students lack confidence in FAMU's police department’s ability to handle a crisis as traumatic as a terrorist attack.

“I believe that FAMU police department is not ready for a potential terrorist attack,“ said Lonnie Johnson III, a sophomore criminal justice student from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “The police department is currently struggling to apprehend suspects. In order to prevent situations of higher status, they must first be able to handle minor situations in our community.”

The responsibility of making sure that students are safe does not just fall on the law enforcement’s shoulders, but the instructors as well. Professors do not receive any training for what to do when a crisis occurs. They are not taught evacuation routes, or how to lead students to safety in case of emergency -- all of which are taught to high, middle, and elementary students.

Michael E. Abrams, a journalism professor at FAMU, feels the protocol for an attack should be reviewed.

“I have been at FAMU for about more than 30 years,” Abrams said. “And I have never had instructions on how to evacuate students. The closest thing we would have to that is a piece of paper posted on the wall in certain places around the SJGC.“

 

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