NDSP conducts workplace violence training exercise at Hesburgh Library

Author: Carol Bradley

Sergeant Greg Pavnica, left, and Officer Tim Reiter prepare to clear the library during violence training

At right, Sergeant Greg Pavnica, left, and Officer Tim Reiter

Screams and gunshots echoed through the Hesburgh Library not long ago—and even though it was a training exercise, it was still pretty frightening for participants, says Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) Officer Tracy Skibins.

“People don’t like to think about workplace violence,” she says. “It’s scary. But that won’t stop something like this from happening.”

Participants attended a classroom session before the training and were debriefed afterward. The Hesburgh Library was closed for the duration of the exercise. In this scenario, the bad guys played by NDSP officers entered the building, fired guns (using training weapons and tape-recorded gunshots) and made demands.

Student workers added verisimilitude by screaming and asking for help, raising questions for the staff—do they leave their safe place and try to help, or stay where they are?

Tracy Skibins Skibins

Participants were able to hide themselves so effectively that there were only two simulated injuries out of 140 participants (one curled up on a shelf, and pulled a book cart in front to block the view.)

The two “victims” thought their office door was locked and it wasn’t. “It surprised the bad guys as much as them,” Skibins says. They were handed cards that said, “Gunshot wound to arm.”

The training was helpful for library staff, but it also offered a great training opportunity for dispatchers and responding police officers.

NDSP officers are happy to bring information and/or training sessions to campus work groups. For more information, contact Skibins at 631-2621, skibins.5@nd.edu.

There’s also a 20-minute training video, “Stay Safe on Campus,” available on the NDSP website. Visit ndsp.nd.edu and click on the Crime Prevention link.

“Crime can happen anywhere,” says Skibins, “including violent crime. Learn to recognize the red flags, before violence happens. Be alert, be trained, be prepared and think through what to do.”