Sonora, CA — The Sonora Police Department is passing on Homeland Security information regarding what to do during a mass shooting in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School incident. SPD published a five part series and all five articles are listed exactly as posted on that site.
In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown Connecticut, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has provided information for awareness of Active Shooter Incidents to the public, should they… become involved in an Active Shooter situation.
Over the next few weeks, the Sonora Police Department will release a series of four (4) articles covering the above described information from Homeland Security. We hope you find these articles useful and informative. Please note these are individual measures and should not be used if in conflict with established protocols trained to you at your workplace.
Profile of an Active Shooter (Part 1)
An Active Shooter is an individual actively engaging in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.
Active Shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve extremely quickly. They can occur at almost any location (i.e. Schools, malls, businesses, office buildings, restaurants, ext…) Typically, the immediate deployment of Law Enforcement is required to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to victims.
Because Active Shooter incidents are often over within 5-15 minutes, before Law Enforcement arrives on scene, individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation.
Good practices for coping with an Active Shooter situation
1) Be aware of your environment and any possible dangers. Situational awareness and perceived threats is important in any day to day activity.
2) Take note of the nearest exits in any facility you visit. This is beneficial to you for any type of emergency situation (i.e. Active Shooter, fire, earthquake, violent storms, ext…)
3) If in an office or enclosed area, try to close and secure the door if something should happen. This is often referred to as sheltering in place.
4) If in a hallway, find a room and secure the door behind you, then stand away from the door in case the shooter shoots through the door.
5) Last resort measures should be attempting to engage the shooter and incapacitating them. This might require you to use any measures you can think of and utilizing any weapons you can find or items that you can use as a weapon (i.e. chairs, fire extinguishers, file cabinet drawers, cleaning products, ext…) If you do engage the shooter, you should continue to engage them until they are no longer a threat or they are incapacitated.
6) Always be aware of the potential of multiple shooters.
7) Call 911 at the safest time available.
Next time we will look at evacuating, hiding out and taking action against the active shooter, a little more in depth.
Subject: Information on Active Shooter Incidents (Part 2)
Quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life. Remember that customers, clients, students, etc. will follow the lead of the employees, staff or management during an Active Shooter situation….
If an escape route is accessible, attempt to evacuate the premises. Be sure to:
• Have an escape route and plan in mind
• Evacuate regardless of others decisions to stay or follow
• Leave belongings behind
• Assist others escaping, if possible
• Prevent individuals from entering the area where the active shooter may be-WARN THEM
• Keep hands visible to Law Enforcement and Security
• Follow first responders instructions, Police, Security, Fire, etc.
• DO NOT attempt to move wounded individuals
• Call 911 when safe to do so.
2) HIDE OUT
If evacuation/escape is not possible, find a place to hide where an active shooter is less likely to find you.
Your hiding place should:
• Be out of the shooter’s line of sight or view
• Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction (i.e. close and lock doors of offices or closets)
• Not trap you or restrict your options for movement
To help prevent an Active Shooter from entering your hiding place:
• Lock all doors
• Barricade the door if possible with available items, such as heavy furniture.
If the Active Shooter is within your vicinity:
• Lock the door
• Silence all cell phones, pagers, radios, or other devices.
• Turn off sources of noise such as TV’s, radios, and computers
• Conceal yourself behind large objects, such as book cases, desks, etc.
• Remain silent, limit movement which creates noise
3) TAKE ACTION AGAINST THE ACTIVE SHOOTER
Take last resort measures for survival when facing imminent injury or death. Attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the Active Shooter by:
• Acting aggressively towards the shooter, engaging in physical attack
• Throwing items or using improvised weapons
• Staying committed to your actions. Do not let up until the shooter is incapacitated or disrupted
Next time we will look at how you should respond when law enforcement arrives.
Subject: Information on Active Shooter Incidents (Part 3)
Arriving Law Enforcement’s first priority is to engage and stop the Active Shooter as soon as possible. Officers will form up and immediately proceed to engage the Active Shooter.
• Officers will group up to …engage the Active Shooter, if possible. However, a single officer may engage the shooter if warranted
• Arriving officers may be from various agencies and have different uniforms, equipment, and other types of vehicles. Some vehicles may not be marked as a normal Law Enforcement vehicle.
• Officers may have various types of weapons, i.e. handguns, shotguns, assault rifles, and tear gas launchers
• Officers may deploy tear gas or pepper spray to control the situation
• Officers may shout commands and push people down on the ground for their safety. It’s important for your safety that you follow the Officers orders
It should be noted that arriving officers will not stop to help injured people; their initial response is to stop the Active Shooter, so be aware of this. Expect rescue teams comprised of additional officers and other emergency medical personnel to follow the initial responding officers. The rescue teams will treat and remove any injured people. They may call upon able-bodied individuals to assist them in removing the wounded from the premises.
Once you have reached a safe location or an assembly point, you will likely be held in that area by law enforcement until the situation is under control and secure, and all witnesses have been identified and questioned. DO NOT leave until released by law enforcement authorities.
Information you have about the incident might be vital to law enforcement or other people involved in the incident.
Next time we will look at how you should react when law enforcement arrives on scene of an active shooter incident.
Subject: Information on Active Shooter Incidents (Part 4)
How you should react when Law Enforcement arrives at the scene of an Active Shooter.
• Remain calm and follow Officers’ instructions
• Put down any handheld items, i.e. bags, backpacks, jackets, phones, ext….
• Immediately raise your hands and spread your fingers
• Keep your hands visible at all times
• Avoid making quick movements towards Officers or grabbing onto them
• Avoid pointing, screaming, or yelling at Officers
• Do not stop and ask Officers for directions or help when evacuating, just proceed in the direction or to the location you were told to go, or to where Officers are entering the building/area from.
Information to provide Law Enforcement or 911-Accurate and relevant information to Law Enforcement is vital for Active Shooter mitigation and can be provided to on scene Officers or 911. The following are importation details to relay;
• Location where you saw the Active Shooter (Do not guess if you don’t know)
• Direction of travel of the Active Shooter
• Any possible hostages
• Number of Active Shooters you personally saw
• Physical description of Active Shooter(s); Clothing, height, weight, hair color, type of weapons, distinguishing characteristics i.e. tactical equipment worn, masks, hats, ext.
• Number and types of weapons if know, number of explosive devices if known
• Number of potential victims
As stated last time, arriving Officers will not stop to help injured persons, their initial response is to stop the Active Shooter, so be cognizant of this.
Next time we will look at some potential indicators of workplace violence.
Subject: Information on Active Shooter Incidents (Part 5)
Recognizing signs of potential workplace violence
An Active Shooter may be a current or former employee. Alert your supervisor if you believe an employee exhibits potentially violent behavior. Indicators of potentially violent behavior may include one or more of the following;
• Increased severe mood swings, and noticeably unstable or emotional responses
• Increased unsolicited comments about violence, firearms, and other dangerous weapons and violent behavior
• Increased talks of problems with supervisors, managers or at home
• Depression or sudden withdrawal
• Increased use of alcohol and/or drugs
• Unexplained increase in absenteeism and/or vague physical complaints
These are just a few things to look for. You should consult your Human Resources Department or supervisor for further information on what to look for.
We hope you have found this series of articles informative. If you should have any questions regarding Active Shooters, please call the Police Department at 532-8141.