Active Shooter Protocol and Prevention at UNH: Everything you need to know.


Courtesy of UNH.

The University of New Hampshire’s main campus is home to more than 11,000 undergraduate students with 88% of “first-time, full-time” students receiving financial aid, according to the University of New Hampshire’s website.

Caitlin Molloy, Staff Writer

Run. Hide. Fight. In the event of an active shooter on campus, Chief of the UNH Police Department Paul Dean emphasized the importance of these words. However, he also described several steps which can be taken to help prevent threats to campus.

A Town Hall forum was held via Zoom on Monday, March 20, to address safety concerns in light of the recent Michigan State University shooting. Faculty, staff and students in the UNH community had the opportunity to ask a panel of speakers, which included Dean, questions and hear about current campus safety. 

In an interview with Dean, he said in the event of an active shooter on campus, an alert will be issued to all students through the UNH emergency alert system, which student email are automatically enrolled in, and the RAVE Guardian app. The alert would announce a shelter in place. This announcement would also be posted on social media, the campus safety website and the digital screens in the dining halls, library, gym and other buildings with screens across campus. 

The RAVE Guardian app is a free safety app that all students can download to their mobile phones. The app is directly connected to the UNH Police Department and offers several safety features including anonymous reporting, an alert system, and safety tracking. Students can easily access these confidentially through the app. 

The campus siren would also go off, ensuring anyone on campus is aware that there may be danger. The siren system is tested silently every week, and tested out loud once a year, according to Dean. He said that those actions are reserved for only serious emergencies, such as extreme weather or active shooting situations.  

For safety reasons, Dean did not outline the specific tactics used in his police training. He did say that his officers have active shooter training every year when students are off campus. They are trained to immediately enter the building where a threat is possibly located.

If students are sheltering in place and there is an active shooter threat, they should try to remember, Run. Hide. Fight, said Dean. “We are coming, we are absolutely coming. If you can get out, get out.” 

Quinn Curtis, a resident hall director at UNH, said that their first step in an active shooter situation is to call UNH Police Department. The call also goes directly to 911. Hall directors and Residential Assistants (RA) have one required online course for active shooting situation training. 

“As hall staff in that situation, especially the RA’s, they are still students,” said Curtis. “They are not experts, we give them very basic training on emergency response, but to be honest most of the training we give them is that we also want them out of harm’s way.”

Curtis also said that they would make sure students had the information that they are able to share about combating an active shooter threat.

Preventing an active shooter situation is something that students, faculty, staff and parents can all help with. Dean said, “If you see something, say something.” There are several ways to help a student you are concerned about.

Director of Psychology and Counseling services (PACS) at UNH, Elisa Bolton, said “They (facility, staff, parents and students) may know about the resources, but are uncertain about where to go.” PACS is a resource that anyone in the UNH community can call. 

“I counsel students, faculty and parents on how to respond to the behavior that they see that they are concerned about,” Bolton said. 

Ideally, students can get support before they are at a point of crisis, said Bolton.

“I know that there are some students who have a lot of pain and suffering. We work really hard to support students at that point in their lives and hopefully help them find relief,” said Bolton. “When bad things happen, students aren’t alone.”

Another resource to help students at UNH is the on-campus Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT), which was created in 2007. The BIT team is trained by experts in risk management and student support. The BIT team can be reached by contacting the Dean of Students.

UNH community members can also anonymously report concerning behavior or activity through the Rave Guardian public safety app as well as anonymously reporting non-emergencies on the UNH Police Anonymous Reporting webpage. Although it can be intimidating, a key part of prevention is taking notice when a situation seems wrong. 

“It’s all about the before,” said Dean. “I need you [community members] to say something.”