By Peyton Crenshaw, Opinion Writer
“The Illusion of Safety: Where is Our Security Blanket?”
Since Columbine in 1999, school shootings have become an all too familiar topic. Deep down, students fear they will be the center of the next news story, and parents fear they will send their children to school with no return. Despite this hidden fear, an individual still has this security blanket of denial to hide behind that it could never be in an individual’s school.
On Friday, January 30th, Lone Star College-Kingwood students felt their blanket slipping away when the school went on lockdown due to rumors of an active shooter. The first lockdown message was sent at 1:38 pm. The all-clear was not issued until 4:29 pm.
During those almost 4 hours of lockdown, the Montgomery County Police, Houston Police department, and North Harris County Police worked together to search the campus, clear buildings, and search cars leaving the parking lots.
The police were on campus within two minutes of receiving the third-party call. The military presence was on campus, and Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez was tweeting updates as he received them.
Although in the end there was no active shooter, the suburbs of Houston came together to defend the students on campus that day. Although I did not have a class that day, I immediately left work to see the process unfold from the sidelines.
I was astounded by the precision and dedication the officers had to protect not only those on campus grounds, but those also waiting across the street. If you were on the sidelines, you were advised to stand behind a pole, while officers checked on you roughly every ten minutes.
This is more than I can say for an incident I witnessed a few years prior.
In the fall of 2017, while rehearsing for voice class at Lone Star College-Montgomery, twenty-one miles from the Kingwood campus, my classmate interrupted my practice and gave me news that sent chills up my spine: two armed men had entered the building, and we were advised to shut ourselves in a classroom.
We immediately entered a classroom and shut the door behind us. The professor kept to himself and scrolled through his phone while students sat in chairs and carried on conversations.
As I sat there listening to the siren, I was wondering what was happening outside my room. Were other professors as nonchalant about the situation as the professor was with us? My question was shortly answered when a new professor opened the door to our classroom with a worried look and sternly told the professor to shut the blinds, turn off the lights, keep our voices down, and hide behind a wall. The professor reluctantly followed these orders and we all crowded together. For the next 45 minutes, we did not see one cop. We did not hear one voice. All we heard was the siren booming from the speakers, “THIS IS NOT A DRILL”.
After a while, the speaker switched tracks to “ALL CLEAR”. We all left class and continued our day as if nothing had happened. I went to my next two classes. The talk around campus was that two-car hijackers crashed their stolen vehicle in front of building E and ran inside to hide from the cops until eventually running through the back of building E and leaving campus.
Regardless if this is true or not, I can’t help but wonder why this situation wasn’t taken more seriously.
Were they waiting for the men to hold hostages? Were they waiting for someone to get injured? Were they waiting at all?
When I left class, I noticed only two police cars in front of my building. The music building, building E, is the only building on campus that does not allow students to concealed carry through the campus carry law. This means the only people armed in that building for roughly 45 mins were criminals. That made me feel unnerved most of all.
Despite the lack of care from the authorities, I never felt unsafe. I never felt like my life was in jeopardy. The problem is I never felt safe either. There was no blanket of security to wrap me up like there was at LSC-Kingwood. I cannot applaud how the report at Lone Star College-Kingwood was handled enough. I only hope the other locations use this as an example of how to respond. Some argue it was a waste of taxpayer dollars. I would prefer to lose money in taxes than to lose a life.