A little paranoia is a healthy thing.
That is Detective Leonard Peete’s catch-phrase when it comes to being prepared for emergencies on campus.
In addition to being a detective with the Auraria police, Peete is also the campus emergency preparedness coordinator. He considers departments being prepared for emergencies to be serious business.
“If I don’t have something scheduled besides my regular work, I will take the time out to absolutely leave and go to a department and talk to them [about emergency preparedness],” Peete said.
Two years ago, Peete and Auraria Police Chief John Mackey made a video to familiarize staff and students about the measures that they can take around campus to be safer.
MSU Denver President Stephen Jordan sent a letter out to all of the departments at the beginning of the semester to encourage the departments to show the video and discuss it with students and faculty, Peete said.
“We’re asking the faculty to get on board with this,” Peete said. “I would like to make them understand that the responsibility for emergency planning is everyone’s.”
Less than nine minutes long, it not only demonstrates basic evacuation procedures, but it also explains the importance of calling the Auraria police rather than dialing 911 from a cell phone.
It also shows watchers how to find emergency phones around the campus and emergency evacuation maps in each classroom.
“A version of this film has been out there and online for four years,” Peete said. “The information is nothing new.”
Few students have seen the video, though. A handful of freshmen said that it was played at an orientation, but many other students were unaware that the film existed.
Sophomore Aaron Lamb did see the video played in one of his classes a year ago. A criminal justice major and former military police officer, Lamb feels that there is “zero preparedness” on campus should an emergency arise.
“No one really knows what to do,” Lamb said.
That lack of preparedness is not for Peete’s lack of effort. In addition to his duties as a detective, he helps write the emergency plan policy, helps departments with their own emergency preparedness and lectures on emergency preparedness.
In addition, he is also an active-shooter trainer, working to train potential responding officers and educate faculty and students who might find themselves in an active-shooter situation.
Teaching the campus population to be aware seems to be having an effect on campus crime.
The past two years has seen a drop in violent crime including forcible sexual assault and aggravated assault, according to the 2011 campus safety report.
“There’s this general consensus that there’s a security bubble over campus,” Peete said. “The reality is, we’re downtown Denver, and to the south of us is this street called Colfax that has a reputation other than being the longest continuous highway in America.”
In his lectures, Peete cautions people to be aware of their surroundings and to avoid texting while walking or listening to their music with both ear buds in their ears.
He plans an annual Safe Night that allows students to walk the campus and look for places that need to be modified for safety. Both students and faculty are encouraged to speak up if they see an area that could be considered dangerous.
“You can be aware, but unless you say something, you’ve isolated that problem to just you, until it becomes other people’s problems because they don’t know about it,” Peete said. “The responsibility for emergency planning is everyone’s.”
The next campus Safe Night is at 5 p.m. Nov. 15. The Emergency Procedure video can be watched at www.ahec.edu/emergency/CampusSafetyVideo.htm.