Utica College President, Dr. Laura Casamento, had to enact an unprecedented lockdown under threat of a potential shooter on campus only a year and a half into her presidency, back in March. There was no shooter; just a former student, making the threatening phone calls that terrorized the campus for the duration of the six-hour lockdown. An Oneida County Jury on Tuesday found that former student, Fahrudin Omerovic, guilty of two counts of making a terror threat. As he prepares to head to state prison, the healing and learning continue at the college, where they did not merely return quietly to the status quo.
"One, we had classroom doors that didn't lock, and we didn't know that at the time, or didn't know how many didn't lock, so we made sure we changed that right away," says Casamento. "We've upgraded our camera and surveillance system here. We've hired a director of emergency management. We have increased our training significantly. In fact, our emergency management team as we speak is doing a tabletop emergency management exercise."
Not all of the changes made on the UC campus were external.
"And we are taking students and faculty and staff through you know, the run, hide, fight training, through their own active shooter training......and knowing that on any given day, right, normal life could be interrupted and to be prepared."
President Casamento is capitalizing on the lessons learned on campus March 5th. And while they weren't free, she is grateful for the price they didn't have to pay.
"We are very fortunate. We did do a lot of things right that day, and the lessons that we did learn, we were able to learn without anyone being physically harmed, so, for that, we're eternally grateful."