How have University of Utah police prepared for an attack like the one at UNLV?

Dec 7, 2023, 5:52 PM | Updated: 6:18 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah is prepared for an active aggressor event such as the gunman who shot and killed three faculty members on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus on Wednesday, a U. public safety official said on Thursday.

A fourth UNLV educator was injured and remained hospitalized on Thursday.

The shooter, identified by police as Anthony Polito, a longtime business professor, had reportedly applied for a position at UNLV but was not hired. The shooter was killed by police, ending the rampage, according to media reports.

Before the shooting, the gunman mailed 22 letters to university faculty members across the U.S., but the contents of those letters wasn’t immediately known, according to media reports.

A U. spokesman Shawn Wood said the university had not heard of any U. faculty who had received letters.

In the aftermath of the shooting, Jason C. Hinojosa, administrative captain of the U.’s Department of Public Safety, said the agency and campus prepare to respond to such events. He described both the training and planned response as “robust.”

Officers study campus shooting to learn more about how community and campus-based law enforcement agencies handle various events.

Public safety officers at the U. and statewide understand if they have to respond to such an event “we are going in. We understand that this is at great personal risk to ourselves. But that’s part and parcel to the job. That’s what we’ve all committed to do,” he said.

In terms of training, the department offers training to staff and faculty and each semester, the university pushes out a training video to students.

Hinojosa said the training for staff can range from lecture and discussion “all the way to a full-blown exercise, then everything in between,” Hinojosa said.

“It’s hard to say you’re really ever prepared because it’s such an enormous and overwhelming thing to face. But we do train and we do educate and try to be as prepared as we can possibly be for that type of incident,” he said.

The video instructs students to “run, hide, fight,” he said.


A training video of an active shooter scenario produced by the University of Utah for students, staff and faculty instructs viewers to “run, hide, fight.” (University of Utah)

“It’s actually very well produced and it gives some pretty good information on what you would need to do if you were faced with those circumstances where you’re in the workplace or you’re in class or you’re at an event,” he said.

Active aggressor events “tend to happen unexpectedly,” Hinojosa said, and sometimes, the warning signs aren’t apparent until the investigation after the attacks.

“Sometimes we see those, sometimes we don’t. We do have a robust analysis system here on campus that coordinates with the State Information Analysis Center very, very regularly. So we have our ear to the ground quite a bit and we’re always listening and willing to take any reports from anybody who may have some concern or there’s some suspicious activity on campus,” he said.

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How have University of Utah police prepared for an attack like the one at UNLV?