UTSA PD contingency plan


The fear of school shootings is very real, but so are the preventative efforts of law enforcement and universities. Captain Douglas Sonego of the UTSA police department explains that in order to prepare for the possibility of a shooting, UTSA patrol officers conduct response team training throughout the year.

“UTSA and the police department have an emergency response plan that goes into effect immediately during an emergency event. UTSAPD conducts training exercises so that all police staff and other UTSA staff who are first responders, receive hands on experience,” Sonego said. All those involved in UTSA’s emergency response plans have had special training in areas such as, the National Incident and Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS).

“Every UTSA Police Officer has received a minimum of 16 hours of Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT),” Sonego said. “Officers also receive other training that is associated with emergency response and tactical response to active shooters.”

Sonego also explained that the UTSAPD conducted an ALERRT active shooter tactical response exercise with the San Antonio Police Department and the University Police Department in 2011. “The exercise involved 50 patrol officers from UTSAPD, SAPD, other university police agencies, as well as the SAPD SWAT and Hostage Negotiations units. The exercise was also attended by over 200 visitors from UT Police Departments, local municipal and university police agencies,” he said.

In addition, the UTSA Office of Emergency Management meets with SAPD, SAFD and other local emergency response agencies at the San Antonio Office of Emergency Management Emergency Operations Center to review and discuss concerns, as well as the latest developments in emergency response capabilities. Specific tactics and procedures, however, are confidential.

“I believe the advantages of the community’s (awareness) of available emergency response resources, the training and response capability of police and the readiness of the campus community to effectively respond to a shooter, greatly reduce the likelihood that a potential shooter would choose UTSA as a target,” Sonego said.

But what are students to do if a shooting actually happens? Sonego reminds students that there are Emergency Response Guides in every classroom. Students should give their cell phone information to the UTSA Emergency Alert System (located in ASAP) to receive emergency alert text messages.

Also, at the top of the left menu of the UTSAPD webpage, there is a video called “Shots Fired: When Lightning Strikes” (which can only be accessed through a UTSA network computer by using one’s UTSA login information). It gives students, faculty and staff valuable information about being prepared should a school shooting occur.

“Make a personal plan on how you would respond in the event of a shooting,” Sonego said.

Although UTSA is well-prepared for emergencies, there are still plenty of things students can do to prevent tragedy. Sonego encourages students to report erratic behavior and anything that seems questionable or out of place, saying, “It is always better for someone to report potentially suspicious behavior than to assume that it’s nothing.”