Saturday, September 17, 2011

Active Shooter Response

An active shooter call comes into dispatch the first thing the dispatcher needs to find out is where is the shooter, how many shooters are there, and what type of weapons do they have? What does the shooter look like, male or female, young or old, black or white, tall or short, fat or thin? What are they wearing, light or dark, shorts or pants, long sleeves or short sleeves? The main thing we need to know is where the suspect is now.

Once we determine there is an active shooter incident we need to respond as many units as possible to the location. We need to know where the shooter is at so we can go there and stop him. Officers need to respond to a safe spot where they can gather a small group of two to six officers, don their tactical vests and helmets, charge their rifles, form a team and then make entry. All of this should happen in seconds, not minutes. As we are organizing the active shooter is killing. Officers need to have this gear in the patrol car ready to go, not waiting in an armory or back at the station or even in the supervisors’ car.

We can’t wait for a SWAT team. In Australia they waited for their tactical team and by then most of the deaths had happened. Officers must have the training and the mindset that they will respond to the active shooter and neutralize the threat immediately. Once two or three officers are together it is time to move towards the active shooter. More officers are better, but don’t wait for them. Speed of response is one of the most critical elements of active shooter response. Move rapidly towards the sound of the shooting, that’s what the SGT Says.

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