Sergeant Jack McClaren stands with campus police officers Kenneth McGuire and Jim Hill outside the public safety office at Mesa Community College (Photo by Monica D. Spencer)

Mesa Community College Police Department discuss campus safety

Following the campus shooting at the University of Arizona, Mesa Community College Campus police discussed how students will be notified in the event of a campus shooting.

MCC students got the opportunity to learn the safety procedures of a possible campus shooting occurring due to the rising number of campus shootings.

College campuses have been the target of mass shootings over the last few years. The reasons vary as to why people target college campuses and schools, but campus police officers have made efforts to deter shootings from occurring at MCC.

Sergeant Jack McClaren with MCC campus police has tried to keep students safe by confirming if they are aware of procedures and knowing that there is a heavy police presence on campus. 

McClaren stated there are nine police officers at MCC including the Red Mountain Campus and the MCC Downtown Center building near North Centennial Way and North Pasadena being monitored.

MCC campus police finished their September Safety Awareness Month that began in September and ended in early October. Students were able to have input on five tips regarding campus safety to keep them safe on campus, according to McClaren.

“The other day we did Coffee with a Cop. It was interesting because a lot of students came up and had coffee with us,” said McClaren.

McClaren said he let students have conversations and ask questions with him and other officers. 

McClaren said he asked if students felt safe on campus and the responses were yes because of the presence of the law enforcement on campus. Students said because nothing traumatic usually happens on campus, it makes them feel more comfortable.

“We are going to do that [Five Tips for Campus Safety] every new semester at the starting month as far as updating it and sending it out,” said McClaren.

McClaren credits RAVE messages and Alert Us box as the reason students would know if an active shooter was on campus. These safety precautions are two major ways to ensure the safety of members on campus if a campus shooting occurred. 

The RAVE guardian app allows students to be informed if any situation of a lockdown or an active shooter were to occur. Students can download the RAVE app on their phones to be notified. 

The Alert Us boxes are located throughout MCC and flash with instructions from Campus Police if any campus shooting were to occur. The Alert Us boxes are mounted on walls throughout the campus and will flash bright-red lights and include a message for an evacuation plan, according to McClaren. 

MEMS is another way students can be notified of emergency situations, such as an active shooter. 

MEMS is the Maricopa Emergency Management System and is issued in the event of an emergency that affects, or has the potential to affect, the safety of people and property, according to the MCC Police Department website.

MEMS, RAVE guardian app, and the Alert Us box would notify students in real time if an active shooter were to come on campus and send direct messages to community members on directions, according to McClaren.

“If you register at MCC we have your phone number for RAVE messages that will be automatically sent to your phone,” said McClaren.

According to McClaren, a new active shooter procedure was updated in August of 2022 about how MCC campus police would respond to an active shooter.

“Police used to wait for backup if an active shooter was present. Over time they changed that response to you are to respond immediately, don’t wait for backup,” said McClaren. 

McClaren stated that the plan for an active shooter was collaborative and began with the former Police Chief Michael Longman. McClaren has been involved with the plan for an active shooter since his start as Police Sergeant.

Previously, MCC campus police would wait for the Mesa Police Department and other departments to respond to incidents such as an active shooter.

“We have a rapid response process where it doesn’t matter if we have five police officers or one. We are trained to respond and take out that threat”, said McClaren. 

Police officers and blue shirts, who are students that work for the police department and are described as the eyes and ears for the police officers, patrol the campus to give a sense of security, according to McClaren.

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