Background behind MSU’s recent campus lockdown

On May 7, an official lockdown of MSU’s whole campus was initiated by University Police. The lockdown, which went into effect at approximately 8:20 a.m., was issued by police after a caller reported seeing two men carrying a black rifle across 11th Avenue heading toward the arch near the center of the Centennial Mall.

While the lockdown was lifted an hour after its implementation, it was the first time MSU has locked down the campus in nearly seven years. The emergency lockdown plan at MSU currently is being updated to better cater to the needs of a true emergency.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported that a meeting of university deans and council members took place during the lockdown in the SUB. Associate Vice President for Student services Bob Lashaway spoke about the emergency plan, “The need to update MSU’s emergency plan became an important issue when President Waded Cruzado chaired a task force for the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, after one of its students was arrested in the Boston Marathon bombings,” he said.

Currently, when an emergency takes place such as the lockdown incident, MSU follows an Emergency Management Plan according to the campus’ Policies and Procedures. The purpose of the plan is to “safeguard the welfare of students, faculty, staff and visitors and to protect the University’s essential functions of teaching, research and public service during and after emergencies.” In essence the plan works to make sure MSU is prepared for and can respond to and recover from an emergency effectively.

Ryan Haskins, director of the aviation program at Gallatin College, was on campus during the lockdown. “I think MSU Campus Police handled it very well. The campus police were very professional and provided us with updates on a timely basis. I also was impressed by the fact that they were so willing to communicate with us throughout the lockdown,” said Haskins.

Jamie Jones, a junior at MSU was also on campus during the hour long lockdown. “I was surprised at how cautious campus police were,” said Jones. “It was frustrating for me as a student not being able to leave the building I was in at the time. But after finding out what went on, I am glad they were so thorough.”

MSU has an emergency response organization chart that details who responds to an incident such as the lockdown. The chart indicates that at the time an incident takes place, the on-scene incident commander, university police and outside law enforcement are the first to respond. Above that is an emergency operations center (EOC) management team that works with the institutional response group (IRG) comprised of various MSU executive faculty.

The IRG group develops the strategies to be used in directing a campus emergency and the EOC implements the strategies put forth. They also serve as the single point of contact for the on-scene responders and the executive management team.

When Jones was able to read more about the lockdown, she noted that, “If there had to be an emergency situation, I’m glad I was at MSU; they kept us safe and that was their main purpose.” She went on to say, “I’d say they succeeded.”