The Active Shooter is a very real challenge of our time. The possibility exists that any one of you reading this might be faced with this challenge in your lives. It matters not if you are a Patrol Officer, Security Officer, School Liaison Officer, or whether you are on or off-duty. The Active Shooter might be a threat to you, your family, and the people that depend on you for protection.
Recently, there have been several high profile incidents where armed assailants, called active shooters, driven to commit acts of “aggressive deadly behavior” have assaulted schools, workplaces and other public venues. These situations .require Immediate Action/Rapid Deployment (IARD) of initial responding enforcement personnel prior to the arrival of police personnel. In these cases, delayed deployment could have catastrophic consequences.
An Active Shooter is “An armed person who has used deadly physical force on other persons and aggressively continues to do so while having unrestricted access to additional victims”
Immediate Action/Rapid Deployment is “The swift and immediate deployment of security resources to ongoing, life threatening situations where delayed deployment could otherwise result in death or serious bodily injury to innocent persons.”
Characteristics of the Assailant
The following is a list of characteristics commonly associated with an assailant bent on aggressive deadly behavior. The list is compiled from descriptions of past assailants and is not meant to be all-inclusive.
- Focus on assaulting persons with whom they have had prior contact. Their intention can be an expression of hatred or rage rather than the commission of a crime.
- Engage more than one target and may be intent on killing a number of people as quickly as
Go to locations where there are numerous potential victims, such as schools, theaters, concerts or shopping malls and/or may even strike at their victims from a distance; much like a sniper. Assailants may have some degree of familiarity. With the building they choose to occupy.
- Continue their attack despite the arrival of emergency responders. Tactics such as containment and negotiation, normally associated with standoff incidents, may not be adequate in these types of events.
- Be better armed than the police and may make use of explosives, booby traps, body armor, and may even employ some type of
- Have planned an attack and be prepared for a sustained confrontation with the police. There have been occasions when these assailants have not attempted to hide their identity or conceal the commission of their attacks. Escape from the police is usually not the
- Be suicidal, deciding to die in the course of their actions, either at the hands of others or by a self-inflicted
Each crisis is unique and dynamic. The incident may go in and _out of an “active” status. A suspect may go from an active shooter to a barricaded status with or without access to victims. The following are general response guidelines for ongoing deadly behavior incidents. Since these incidents contain many variables, effectively handling this type of situation cannot be totally reduced to specific procedures. These guidelines are not meant to limit conventional tactics, which are appropriate to a dynamic situation.
Upon arrival at the scene where aggressive deadly behavior is ongoing, intelligence may be sparse and fragmented. Information may be obtained “on the run” from fleeing witnesses, spent casings on the ground, observing damage from fired rounds and any information reported by other security personnel. Broken windows are an excellent indicator for locating where violent acts have occurred or are occurring. The first priority is to locate the assailant(s) and assess the situation. Upon assessing the situation and getting all the information that can be obtained, the information must be communicated back to the command post or communications.
After the initial information is obtained the initial contact team will continue to gather information and pass it onto the command post or incident commander so that decisions can be made and a plan developed.
Command and Control
An active shooting incident is a complex situation requiring considerable assets for success. Large, unfamiliar locations such as schools, businesses, office buildings, malls, or other public venues pose serious problems from the command and control aspect. A successful outcome can only be accomplished if command and control is established early on; otherwise it may never be obtained. The senior officer on scene must assume the role of Incident Commander to facilitate the information gathering and dissemination process. The Incident Commander must demonstrate clear, expedited and decisive leadership.
The Incident Commander should:
- Sound the alarm
- Notify the police
- Assess the situation
- Analyze the information obtained from the incident team
- Coordinate and deploy responding resources
- Assemble additional Contact and Rescue Teams
- Secure the perimeter of the location
- Set up a command post in a safe area
- Remove innocent persons from the location to a safe area
- Meet and direct the police and fire department
- Once the police are set up and relieve you of Incident Commander, act as their assistant since you will be the most knowledgeable of the location and personnel there.
When officers encounter an incident where immediate action and rapid deployment tactics are needed, time is of the essence. The immediate and swift implementation of “Contact” and “Rescue” teams will increase the likelihood of saving the lives of the people exposed to the active shooter. Through the use of expedited and decisive leadership in implementing these tactics, officers will bring order to chaos, and increase the safety of all those involved.
What then is the Security Officer’s role?
Each Rock Security Officer must train and educate themselves in the area of “what do you do If”… situations. Officers should know who to call, who to notify and what to do in the event that something happens at your work location.
Do you have the phone number to:
- Local police
- Fire Department
- Gas Company
- Water and Power
- Coroner’s office
The first officer arriving at the scene must assess the situation and determine the following;
- Your safety (Don’t try to be a hero).
- The safety of the people in the area
- Escape routes if needed
- Assess the situation and forward information on to the incident commander or communications until a command post is set up
- Secure the “hot”zone
- Direct other officers where to go to assist people or secure sections
- Remove innocent people from the location to a safe area
- Continue the line of information to the command post
Incidents may occur that involve unexploded improvised explosive devices (bombs). If live bombs are encountered, DO NOT MOVE OR TOUCH THE DEVICE. Consider an alternate route if possible, and do not use your hand held radio. If communications are necessary use the landline telephone-away from the location. An officer should be posted to control the area surrounding the bomb as soon as possible.
There will occasionally be circumstances requiring immediate Action and Rapid Deployment from first responders. While most officers will never face such a threat, nevertheless, mental and tactical preparation for this possibility is essential. Ideally, officers should possess detailed internal diagrams and phone numbers of high-risk locations and know the best approach routes in their area. In an active shooter situation, time is of the essence. Immediate and swift implementation of Contact and Rescue Teams will save lives.
Rock Security Supervisors are to review and discuss the information in this bulletin with employees in a timely manner. Upon thorough review, the employee will sign and date the document, which in turn will be placed in his/her file. Employees should maintain a copy of the training information for further reference.