Oxford and University police departments led a forum for students on Wednesday to discuss the actions and awareness of potential life-threatening incidents while on campus.
The forum’s purpose was to provide necessary resources to keep students, faculty and staff informed in case of emergency.
Due to recent active shooter reports at Mississippi State University and Delta State University, officers Libby Lytle and Jeff Kellum met with students to discuss ways to prevent and handle violence on and off campus.
In the event of an active shooter, OPD officer Jeff Kellum advised students to avoid, deny, defend and report.
Kellum said students should leave an active shooter scene immediately, if possible.
They should avoid areas of danger, remain calm in order to react to life-threatening incidents appropriately and always know where the building exits are located.
Students should close off the shooter’s access to their area and find shelter in a place that is out of sight, Kellum said. They should remain quiet. Communication is very important, Kellum said.
“We take care of each other,” Kellum said.
According to Kellum, if the shooter reaches a student, they should defend themselves and use any available item as a weapon to protect themselves and those around them.
In addition to Kellum’s presentation on active shooter response, UPD officer Lytle discussed violence on the Square regarding sexual assault and self-defense.
“The most important thing is having a plan,” Lyle said.
She emphasized being prepared, whether in the home or on the Square, would help ensure students’ safety.
“You and you alone are responsible for your own safety,” Lytle said. “So, develop a plan to protect yourself.”
Lytle said one in five women are sexually assaulted. The most important advice she had for students was to have a friend with them at all times.
Lytle spoke on other ways to keep safe, including self-defense mechanisms.
It is easy for someone to come up behind a student and grab them, but it is hard for the student to scream and get away.
As a result, Ole Miss UPD and Lytle offer a self-defense program to teach students how to react and protect themselves from those situations.
Lytle and Kellum want students to remain alert and report any suspicious persons or activity by contacting the University Police Department.
They also have an active shooter response video on the University’s emergency website.
Lytle said public safety measures are being taken to ensure a trustworthy relationship between students and law enforcement.
“We are not here to arrest people, we only arrest those who won’t behave themselves,” Lytle said. “Don’t think of us as the bad people, think of us as the ones who will help you.”