Shad Crowe was recently appointed as the director of emergency management at Utica College.
While news of his hiring comes months after the college’s lockdown incident in the spring semester, the decision to add an emergency management director has been in the works for years as Crowe’s position was approved last year.
To improve their management response and plans, the college teamed with the consultancy firm Epicenter Media and Training. As a result of the public safety training, it became a primary objective to add an emergency management director.
Jeffery Gates, senior vice president for student life and enrollment management, said the decision was a reflection on the expansions UC is making.
“As our footprint continues to grow not only on campus but near Pioneer Village, our nursing sites in Syracuse and in Florida; we felt we really needed to think about emergency management broader than simply campus safety,” Gates said. “Bringing someone in while training with Epicenter was always a part of the plan.”
Gates explained the position was already approved, but the hire was delayed due to representatives at Epicenter wanting to complete their work first.
Crowe, who was previously a New York State Trooper and a SWAT man for 11 years, did comprehensive studies of all the sites in and outside of the UC campus. Like every college campus, he said, there is room for improvement.
Crowe’s main goal is to see students and faculty get more involved in training that involves realistic situations.
“I am hoping to reach out to the student body and ask for role players and have folks be involved in the actual full-scale exercises,” he said. “I’m hopefully planning for the springtime. You can do as many exercises as you want, but if you don’t have the outside emergency responders involved the sense of realism isn’t there.”
He explained that being aware of a potential threat is as easy as not looking down on your phone while walking from class to class in order to be more familiar with your surroundings.
“I walked from North Hall to Strebel; I can’t tell you the number of people looking down at their phones and not their surroundings,” Crowe said. “It’s understandable because we all live in the digital age. Maybe there was a threat that walked right past you and you didn’t see it. If you could put your head out and swivel, it changes everything.”
Crowe wants to improve and encourage students to be more proactive by introducing a scavenger hunt based on the squirrel activity done on campus; he renamed the squirrel Sparky Burrstone.
“[Sparky’s] backstory is that he resides in Campus Safety,” he said. “He is under constant surveillance and is monitored, but occasionally like all good vandals he escapes. When he escapes he goes somewhere on campus and hides in a place that is emergency management specific.”
Crowe will hide Sparky around campus depending on a situational emergency whether it be a winter storm or an active shooter training. Whoever finds him will receive a $50 gift card to the campus bookstore or a $25 Sodexo card. Crowe plans on doing the scavenger hunt at least 12 times throughout the semester so that students see the real rewards while paying attention to different things around campus.
“Is the dome really a place you wanna go and shelter if there is a big winter storm happening?” he said. “Probably not because the dome collapsed once so there might be more suitable places.”
While students are an important part of training, Crowe also wants to focus on faculty and staff.
“Coming from that law enforcement profession, I had a lot of folks that were on campus the day of the lockdown,” he said. “They were not in good situations; professors continued to teach, or they didn’t do what they should have. The whole initiative of a lockdown is taking the situation away from the bad guy. There is not room for gray area, it is cut and dry.”
The school is also taking extra initiative to include emergency response handbooks as well as emergency phones that direct a student or faculty member straight to Campus Safety without dialing. Blue Lights will also added so that residents will be able to locate a student in an emergency.
“Unfortunately, people have this mindset that it can’t happen here, it will never happen here, and then it does,” Crowe said. “I am hoping I can encourage people to be aware. Everywhere you are, unfortunately in today’s world, you need to be aware. You can’t walk around with your head in the sand.”