In Chapter 15 of the text, they discussed crisis negotiation and responses to conflict management. Missing was the concept of Active Shooter. This is important for every single person to understandbecause of the rise in shootings at schools, malls and other public areas.
This is my opinion only, not from a quotable source: For decades, law enforcement held firm to the fact that the public did not need to know about the actions of the police in a crisis situation, because if the information was out there, the bad guy could anticipate what the police were going to do and as a result, our brethren were placed in jeopardy. To a degree this is accurate, however, the Columbine School shooting taught us to look at things a bit differently.
If you don‟t remember the Columbine School shooting, there is an excellent article by Time Magazine on the internet (10 years after). You can google the school name and hundreds of hits come up, so it is important that you understand what happened. Prior to Columbine, the police response to a shooting where the suspect was „holed‟ up at the location with or without hostages was to call in SWAT-like teams to deal with it. The area police would set up the perimeter and keep the suspects inside. Hostage negotiation teams and swat teams would respond. While the hostage negotiation teams began to try to establish contact and get the suspects talking, the swat teams would set up a plan to engage the suspect and neutralize the threat. The philosophy was to not go in with force unless there was absolutely no other alternative.
When the shooting at Columbine occurred, this is exactly what the police did. This was a horrific experience and one thing about law enforcement is that they continually conduct what are called after action reports on critical incidents. Now, because of the extent of this incident, lots (highly educated term) of agencies were involved in looking at this crisis.
Anyone that has been involved in law enforcement knows that incidents like this are chaotic at best. Issues that were most concerning: Students and Staff died while waiting for the swat teams to arrive and determine that the suspects had committed suicide. (hours went by) How to get the hundreds of students to a safe location Communications with law enforcement Medical aid, there was virtually none for hours
The most concerning issue was that victims could have been saved after the initial attack, but law enforcement‟s standard response was not geared to this. This is NO fault of those agencies involved. Their response was consistent with what other law enforcement officers would have done just about anywhere in this country.
Over the next few years, all agencies were required to attend Active shooter training. The concept is basic so that every agency is able to join together and commence immediately. There are a lot of articles on active shooter on the internet also, but I think if you follow my scenario, you will understand it. Again, it is simple, very simple.
A call comes out that there is a shooter at a high school or mall, several people injured. Units start rolling code 3 (lights and sirens). The supervisor on duty names the location for the first team to respond to and then a command post. Most law enforcement agencies have arial photographs of all schools, malls and large public areas on file. Most have them accessible via their mobile computers in their car, or possibly a book in the supervisor‟s vehicle.
The last report of shots fired were in Building A- North end. So, the first four officers to arrive would advise the supervisor that they were there. They would go to either the sound of shooting, or the last location. Lets say they can still hear shots being fired. The four put their backs together (not physically) but configure themselves so each one is facing a direction, (N, E, S and W). They have full coverage. They start toward the sound of the shooting staying in this configuration. As they proceed, if they come across victims, they quickly ask questions, put out the victim‟s locations and continue toward the shooting. They tell the victims help will be coming.
Two more teams are quickly configured. One is a cover team and the other an extraction team. They respond to the location of the victims and begin the extraction of the victims to a safe area. At the same time, more teams are quickly formed and sent in as active shooter teams. They are sent to support the first team that is actively searching for the suspect or suspects. Maybe two teams are sent, it all depends, recognize that all of this is going on at the same time. Also, when an active shooter comes out, it is not uncommon to have 40 officers within the first 10 minutes or even more. EVERYONE responds. CHP, City Police, County Sheriff, Parole Officers, Probation Officers anyone that is armed and on a radio frequency arrives.
More cover teams and extraction teams are set up and are tasked with clearing all classrooms between the point of insertion to the actual suspects themselves. Each building and every inch of the school is covered by these teams with the purpose of finding victims and getting them extracted quickly.
At the same time, Buses are called for, school buses or Rapid Transit, it makes no difference. The school is in lock down. What this means is that all schools have a protocol that if gunshots or an explosion or even police activity is near the school, they “lock down the students.” Teachers lock their classrooms, have the students lay on the floor and be quiet. The teachers have been taught the police response and keep the students quiet . The school has master keys that the supervisors have, so the classrooms can be opened. If the key is not available, the door will be kicked. The teacher prepares the students for this. The students and teachers are moved, with their hands up to the buses. (Remember, no one knows who the suspects are). The names of the kids are taken and they are then transported to a safe venue where they are checked for injuries and interviewed. Obviously, if there is a noticeable injury, then they go to a medical facility.
Theactive shooter teams continue until the school is empty and the threat has been neutralized.
Several years ago, there was an incident at a mall in Utah. Utah had just completed active shooter training and several off-duty officers from different departments formed an active shooter team and were able to save numerous lives by going after the shooter in this method as one of their wives called the incident into law enforcement. It was very successful. All agencies train with active shooter in the hopes that they will never have to use it.
If the community does not understand what to expect or how to proceed—there can be serious problems. To date, the school shootings have been at colleges or high schools for the most part. So, those communities needs to be educated in what to expect. If a student knows that the best course of action for them is to freeze where they are at and prone out, keep their hands visible, they will normally do that. In absence of this knowledge, they could run toward police to be “saved” and could get injured or complicate things.