PCC Revises “Active Shooter” Training
In the past, there have been several times when PCC practiced an “active shooter” drill, in which staff and students were trained to go into a room with a door that could be locked, turn off the lights, and be as quiet as possible. This is commonly called a “lockdown.” At Cascade Campus, a shooting at the nearby Rosemary Anderson High School led to an actual activation of the alarm in December 2014.
As public safety officials learn more about these types of incidents, and how people survive, escape, or are harmed, they are changing some of the recommended procedures. On Thursday Feb 25, PCC Public Safety Lieutenant Derrick Foxworth gave a 90 minute training session that outlined the newly recommended procedures.
First is prevention. The best way to survive an incident is to keep it from occurring, and so staff and students should be aware of certain traits and behaviors, and report them to Public Safety or to a Dean of Students.
A review of 160 shootings between 2000-2013 conducted by the FBI found that in 98% of shootings were committed by a single person and in 97% male. In approximately 10% of the incidents, the shooter targeted his current, estranged or former spouse or his current girlfriend. Of the 12 Shootings at higher education institutions, 5 were by current students, 4 by former students, 2 were employees and 1 was a patient at a collegiate medical center. Interestingly, 5 of the 12 occurred on a Friday.
“Always, always, always” to quote Lt. Foxworth, the shooter has a major unresolved grievance about something, and sees violence as a solution to the problem. They tend to be people who are commonly referred to as injustice collectors. They often complain and fail to accept any responsibility for their behavior. They view the actions of others as a slight or an insult regardless of how minor the action.
- The shooter often communicates in some way their plans. This “leakage” might be on Facebook, a note or diary, or other social media and may include telling someone not to go to school on a particular day.
- The shooter shows an unusual interest in weapons and displays an unusual interest in past shooters and incidents.
- The shooter practices in someway. Often he will buy weapons or ammunition, and often will walk through the area they are planning to attack before hand. This “casing” could be days before hand the planned event. If someone comes into an area where they are not supposed to be, they may just have made a wrong turn, or they may be doing this casing. Lt. Foxworth recommends the “Aggressive Hospitality” response. Greet the person effusively, ask how they can help, and gently guiding them out of the area. In most cases, someone just opened the wrong door, and are glad to leave, but if you get a bad feeling, trust your intuition and report it to Campus Safety so they can investigate.
- The person is experiencing hopelessness, desparation or despair.
- The person has the means and ability to carry out an attack. This is the difference between saying “I could drop an A-bomb on this place” and “I could shoot up this place.”
- The person sees violence as acceptable, desirable, or an effective way of solving problems.
Reporting people who exhibit these traits is the best way to stop a shooting before it happens. If there is nothing to it, no harm, no foul.
Keep in mind that the context of the behavior and one alone may not be predictive of violence. However is you have any doubts report the behavior.
Should a shooting occur.
The average police response time to active shooting incidents is 3 minutes, but even with that, the five highest casualty shootings on record were finished in those three minutes, so speed is of the essence.
The first indication of a shooting may include the sound of gunfire, people running away, people screaming or the lockdown alarm being heard and seen. Should you find yourself in an actual active shooter situation following are three things you can do.
RUN: If safe to do so and you can, run! If you hear the lockdown alarm, but haven’t heard shots, then running may probably your best option, getting away from campus or at least campus buildings.
HIDE: If you think the shooter is very close, or you cannot run without being seen by him, then lock the door and barricade it with heavy furniture. Cover windows if possible, turn off the lights, become totally silent and silence your cell phone and other noise producing devices. Be aware of the difference between “Cover and Concealment.” Concealment is hiding, but Cover is hiding and using some sort of barrier that can a bullet can not go through. Call Public Safety x4444 if safe to do so.
At a college, reporting to Public Safety is preferable than 911. If for example, if 9-1-1- receives a call that there is a shooter at the South Classroom Building of the Sylvania Campus, the Police know where Sylvania is, but probably have no idea how to find the South Classroom Building. PCC’s public safety people know where that is, and can meet the police and quickly guide them to the location. In addition, the public safety dispatcher can immediately activate the lockdown alarm, giving others a chance to escape.
FIGHT: If the shooter does enter the room you are in, fighting is the best response. Use improvised weapons, throw books, chairs, or stab him with pens. The shooter will have reflex reactions to things being thrown at them, which will give you time to hit him, throw something else at him, or escape. If you fight, go all in. Don’t negotiate: It most likely will not work. Think of the man who told the Umpqua Community College shooter that it was his son’s birthday. He still got shot.
If you are in a room with people, and you have barricaded it as best you can, discuss quietly what you will do if he comes in. Have your improvised weapon ready, and agree to attack him the moment he comes in the door.
Stay barricaded until Police arrive and let you know it is safe. If you are unsure if it really is a policeman on the opposite side of the door, you could ask them to slide their badge under the door, or call 9-1-1 and ask if the area has been secured and the shooting has ceased.
Even with the three minute arrival time, 60% of incidents are over before the police arrive.
40% of shooters commit suicide.
Incidence of workplace and school shootings has doubled in the last 7 years.
If you want to review this training, there is a good video called “Run Hide Fight” from the Houston Police Department. It does have some graphic material of people being shot in the beginning. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VcSwejU2D0
Public Safety is available to present this training to groups in the District that would like to have it. Contact them at the non-emergency number 971-722-4902 or email email@example.com.
Editor’s note: Thanks to Derrick Foxworth and Public Safety for checking the accuracy of this article.