Starkle Dream Up. Stephens College

Active Assailant Training Event on Wed., Feb. 28

Frequently Asked Questions 

Stephens will be the site of a police, fire and first responder “active assailant” training exercise on Feb. 28.  You may have some questions about this and we are happy to answer them for you.

Below please find our FAQ. If you still have questions, Director of Safety Ken Hammond will be happy to speak with you. You can email him at or contact of the Marketing office at

The least you need to know

  • Our campus is hosting a training exercise for local first responders
  • This will be on Wed., February 28, from 5-11 p.m.
  • There is no risk to you! There will be no active firearms!
  • The Learning Center, Pillsbury Science Center and Library will be part of the simulation. Plan ahead; these areas will be closed.
  • Residence halls, Stamper and dining services will all operate on their normal schedule. 


Other questions you might have

Who is involved?
This exercise will be planned and directed by the Columbia Police Department and the Columbia Fire Department, with support from Stephens’ Office of Safety and Security.  The officers in charge of this event are highly experienced and extremely well trained to conduct these simulation exercises. Other groups participating include Boone County Fire Protection District, Boone Hospital, UMC Hospital, EMS, and Boone County Joint Communications. Local media may also be present. 

Why is Stephens doing this?
Stephens is proud to be the site and host of this exercise; it’s a great service to our community, it ensures our local police and fire are very familiar with our campus, and it prepares them to respond effectively should there ever be a real incident here in Columbia. The best way to be prepared for such an occurrence is to ensure that our local responders are as well prepared as possible to react quickly, effectively and safely.  Stephens is proud to be the kind of good neighbor that helps ensure our community’s responders are developing that expertise and experience. 

What spaces will be used?
The exercise will include the Learning Center – including Walter, Dudley, Helis, Catharine Webb – Pillsbury Science Center and the Hugh Stephens Library.  These buildings will be evacuated and closed to all non-training personnel between 4 p.m. and 11 p.m. After the exercise concludes, some of those involved will have a debriefing meeting in LRW. Employees will need to move their cars out of the Library lot by 4 p.m. Stars Café will not be available. See the attached map for the areas that will be included. Roads will be closed to all but local traffic in this area.

What about my residence hall? What about dinner? What if I want to go downtown?
Rest assured, your residence hall is not in the participation area. You should experience no disruption and participants will not be allowed near residence halls. Stamper Commons and the dining hall will be open as usual as will the pathways to Stamper Commons and the bridges over College and Broadway. Our Safety and Security team will be actively monitoring the areas involved (and not involved) to ensure your safety.

What if I have to work on a project, prepare for a class, or go to the library?
You will need to plan ahead. You will not have access to those areas during the exercise. Your faculty are informed of this. Any classes scheduled for those spaces that evening will be moved and those students will be informed in advance.  

Will there be guns on campus?
NO!  There will be items that look like guns but these are not real guns; they cannot and will not have bullets. Participating officers may carry simulation (fake) guns, called “blue guns” because they are painted blue to avoid confusion. Essentially, they will have the professional equivalent of paintball guns.

What should I expect to see?
You will see Columbia police officers monitoring the area to ensure the safety of both participants and the community. Our Safety and Security officers will be active on campus ensuring the safety of our campus. Participating first responders may be in tactical gear. You may see local media covering and participating in the event, and many other community officials have been invited as observers. You will see ambulances, fire trucks, and possibly “victims”. You will be allowed to view from outside the area, however, much of the event will be indoors. 

Are students involved?
Many of our theatre students have volunteered to participate as victims in the simulation, and our Director of Security Ken Hammond is looking for employee volunteers to participate as additional role players – people in the buildings as the simulation begins, as well as the family and friends of “victims.” No other students will have access to the simulation areas.

How will the community know?
Director of Safety Ken Hammond and Director of Marketing and Communications Rebecca Kline will be working with all local community groups, our neighbors, local schools and colleges, and downtown and local businesses to communicate about the event. The Public Information Officer for the Columbia Police Dept. will be working closely with them. The media will be informed and may cover the event. Signage will go up a week in advance around our campus and stay in place until the event is over.  

Will there be police officers on our campus in the coming weeks without notification of the community?
While we may have visitors from the police and fire departments as they work with our Security staff to plan the simulation, they will be escorted by Director of Security Ken Hammond or another security officer whenever they are on campus.  There will never be police officers or other officials associated with the simulation on our campus without a Safety and Security office escort.

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