Lockdown Procedures

Distinction between "Lockdowns" And "Shelter in Place"


A lockdown occurs when occupants of the University are directed to remain confined to a room/area with specific procedures to follow regarding locking of doors, closing of windows/shades, seeking cover, etc. This procedure is implemented when a criminal element is believed to be on the premises and officials expect that these measures will minimize risk exposure of the occupants to the criminal element. Lockdowns necessitate a law enforcement response and immediate intervention. While responsibility for determining an immediate lockdown rests primarily with the University Police, both the University officials and law enforcement officials are strongly encouraged to confer with one another during this process. This will help ensure safe and efficient handling of University lockdown events.

Shelter in Place

Sheltering in place is similar to lockdown in that the occupants are to remain on the premises but may require that they be moved to a different part of the University due to an environmental event taking place outside of the University. For example, the release of a chemical cloud from a nearby incident, power lines down, or a weather related emergency. Evacuation may put the occupants at greater risk then sheltering them within the University. However, it may be prudent to move all of the occupants to another part of the University to further minimize the risk of exposure.

A “lockdown” condition is initiated for weapons related violence, usually involving the presence of an emotionally disturbed person or persons who are threatening, have committed, or are in the process of committing violent acts.

Lockdown is a baseline plan designed to deny the attacker access to potential victims. There is no one magic solution to cover all situations and scenarios. Members of the campus community are encouraged to “think on their feet.” Lockdown applies to everyone: faculty, staff, students, administrators, and guests of the University.

Any member of the campus community who believes weapon-related violence is taking place should dial 3111 (or 978.665.3111 from a cell phone) immediately.

Lockdown announcements can be made by Fitchburg State Alert, a campus-wide emergency notification system, and by police cruiser public announcement (PA) systems, hand-held bullhorns, WEBs Call Boxes, or the Official Fitchburg State Social Media Account.

Once a Lockdown order is given:

  • Immediately lock classroom or office door(s).
  • Shut lights off and turn monitors off.
  • Help students remain calm and caution them to remain completely quiet.
  • Maintain your attendance of those you have in your area.
  • Ensure that everyone remains in a safe spot, out of view from both exterior and interior windows.
  • Faculty, staff, and students outside should pay attention to the police PA system.
  • Keep cover and concealment in mind.
  • If you are attacked directly, scatter.
  • Lockdown protocol supersedes standard fire alarm evacuation procedures. Ignore the fire alarm unless evidence of fire is apparent (you see smoke or fire). This is a “think on your feet” moment.

Police Response:

  • Lockdown buys a handful of minutes for police to take action.
  • Outer perimeter of the campus will be established and secured.
  • Police will arrive and form a contact team.
  • Police will make rapid entry to aggressively address the threat—stay out of the way.
  • Police will move directly to the violence, past injured people (they will be cared for as soon as possible).

Situation Resolved:

  • Unlock or evacuation will begin when situation is resolved or stabilized.
  • Be prepared for lockdown to last hours.
  • Unlock teams consisting of University Police and other law enforcement agencies will open your doors, inspect occupants of the room, and give further instructions.
  • Staging areas for medical triage will be established for treating injured.

This lockdown plan remains fluid and may be changed during an emergency.