Threats of shootings have raised concerns for security and safety procedures nationwide. Loyola’s administration is in the process of responding to potential shooting incidents with new resources and methods.
On Oct. 2, the day after the Las Vegas shooting, Loyola’s administration was informed of a rumored shooter on USC’s campus. The rumor was initially alarming, but there was no verification that there was an armed shooter at USC.
Security Supervisor Abel Galarza said, “Once we heard of the situation at USC, and there not being details as to what was actually going on, I thought of our immediate perimeter and the proximity of USC to Loyola HS.”
Dean of Men Daniel Annarelli said, “I am in contact with our security team, and some of the security information that is coming into me supplements at a higher level what we see on Twitter or on the LA Times page. I was already aware, before it was confirmed, that this was likely not a real shooter. This was a report that was unconfirmed.”
In response, Loyola closed its gates as a preliminary caution. Principal Frank Kozakowski said, “We made an announcement that there had been unconfirmed shooter on USC’s campus, and as a precaution we locked our perimeter gate.”
The Las Vegas shooting showed there are other methods of violence. Fences could not protect the victims from the criminal in the hotel. “Security is no longer the perimeter of gates, it’s the sniper in the tower,” Kozakowski said.
Last year, Loyola was threatened by an anonymous user from online forum 4chan. This threat was taken seriously and administration contacted law enforcement such as the FBI and LAPD.
Annarelli said, “The thing that heightened our concern was that I was contacted directly by an FBI agent. When law enforcement is involved, that raises our level of concern and response.”
Remaining in contact with school security, LAPD and FBI, Loyola decided to close its doors. Kozakowski said, “When it became a big threat, we shut down. We have to be cautious, and what I told people is that I’m always going to error on the side of caution, even if it means we lose a school day.”
The school administration meets every Thursday, and on Oct. 12, they began suggesting different possibilities of new security and safety procedures.
Loyola increased communication through “Everbridge,” an app that allows messages to be sent to various people at once.
Annarelli said, “This solution allows us to send alerts one time to various members of our community, parents, faculty and students and can happen through the app, through text message, through email and through phone. It can all happen simultaneously.”
Administration also aims to better secure the school perimeter.
“We have to think of it as a community college,” Kozakowski said. “It’s a pretty open campus with multiple open points and we can secure the perimeter, but if someone was really trying to get in, there aren’t too many low fences someone can get into, but there are some weak spots.”
Another suggested response was the introduction of buzzers on buildings so doors will remain locked unless signaled to unlock.
“When people come to visit they have to be buzzed into Loyola Hall or Ruppert Hall,” Annarelli said. “ They can only gain access when they check in with security or receptionist.”
School administration discussed new student campus evacuation procedures.
Galarza said, “Taking into consideration the many aspects of any potential threat to our campus, the administration team has taken steps in planning for, and if necessary, implementing a mass evacuation of campus. There are mutual agreements in place with our neighboring schools to accept our students, faculty and staff in case of an emergency needing evacuation. “
Other suggestions include increased school monitoring and use of smart cards to replace school keys so that lost cards can be deactivated and classrooms are more secure.
Galarza said, “The administration and security have collaborated like never before and will continue to revise and reimagine the best practices for crisis management and emergency preparedness.”
Annarelli said, “As an administrator, my goal and hope is that the students feel like they can trust me, that they can trust Mr. Kozakowski, that they can trust Dr. Jordan, or Dr. Pedrorias. We can be prepared on a lot of different levels, but we need to have that communication and trust with people in our community because it’s how we’re going to prevent things from happening in the future.”