If you’ve noticed a heavier police presence around campus the past few weeks, here’s why:
The Watch has confirmed that a 22 year-old man from Dartmouth was arrested on King’s campus on Nov. 2, after police responded to a report of a gun visible in the backseat of a car parked by the gym.
Director of facilities Alexander Doyle said that parking enforcement was doing rounds when a staff member saw a handgun through the car window. They then informed Doyle, who called the police. According to Doyle, staff members were posted by the car until police arrived.
Doyle said the owner returned to his car a short while after police arrived on scene.
Police spokesperson John Macleod told the Watch that the handgun was a replica, but after further investigation, police found an improperly stored (but legally owned) long gun in the trunk of the vehicle.
The owner told security he had been hunting.
Police seized the weapon and the man was arrested. He has since been released, but has been charged with unsafe storage of a firearm and is scheduled to appear in court at a later date.
King’s President Bill Lahey said in an interview that since taking over the position in 2016 he has asked a couple of times about the school’s readiness for an emergency situation, such as a weapon on campus.
“It’s an area we should be looking at and that we have people properly trained, and systems in place, to respond if it’s a true emergency situation,” Lahey said.
Former residence don Ben Vandrope said that he never felt that security was a number one concern for the university.
“(The university is) too trusting here. It seems like no one gets punished, even when there’s repeat offences,” he said.
Vandrope was a don in the 2017-18 academic year, and was previously a residence assistant at York University.
“There was no type of lockdown training when I was a don. I feel like my experience from being an RA before is an advantage because I would know what to do in that situation of a shooting on campus,” he said.
“Dons are not given this type of training at all, it’s all about calling security or the dean on duty. If it were an active shooter situation, people would die because no one would know what to do.”
Dean of students Katie Merwin confirmed that there is no formal lockdown training for dons.
However, a few days after the incident here on campus, Dalhousie Security hosted a workshop on lockdown training for university staff on both campuses. The workshop was not mandatory, though some King’s faculty and staff did attend.
Merwin also said that the workshop was not in reponse to the incident, but came at a good time.
“You realize that this was a non-issue though, right?” Merwin asked Watch reporter Kristen Thompson.
Vandrope finds the lack of information on the incident and the response from the university, concerning.
“We’re not living in a world where these situations can be taken lightly. I find it odd that no one knows about this,” he said.
According to president Lahey, the person in charge of deciding to inform students would be Doyle, as he is in charge of security. He added that if Doyle was ever unsure, he would report to the bursar or Lahey himself.
Doyle said, after having heard the man say he had been hunting, knowing it is open season, and the situation being under control believed it wasn’t worth sending a Dal Alert and putting the campus on lockdown.
According to Doyle, King’s has been consulting with other universities to develop an official policy regarding emergency preparedness for roughly two years, though no policy has been enforced as of now. He added that King’s is likely still a year away from anything concrete being implemented.