An active shooter is a person who is actively threatening lives or apparently prepared to threaten lives in a populated area. In most cases active shooters use firearms, and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. These dynamic situations evolve rapidly, demanding immediate deployment of law enforcement resources to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to innocent victims. Below are guidelines for faculty, staff and students who may be caught in an active shooter situation, and describes what to expect from responding police officers.
The main goals are to remain calm and use these guidelines to help you plan a strategy for survival.
If an active shooter is outside your building:
- Proceed to a room that can be locked.
- Close and lock all the windows and doors.
- Turn off all of the lights.
- Get everyone down on the floor where no one is visible from outside the room.
- Have one person in the room call Campus Security and advise the officer of what is taking place and your location.
- Remain in place until a police officer, a Campus Security officer or a campus administrator known to you, gives the “all clear.”
IMPORTANT: Unfamiliar voices may be the shooter attempting to lure victims from their safe space. Do not respond to any voice commands until you can verify the source to be a police officer, Campus Security officer or a campus administrator you know.
If an active shooter is in the same building with you:
- Lock the room you are in, if possible.
- Turn off all of the lights.
- Get everyone down on the floor where no one is visible from the hall.
- Have one person in the room call Campus Security and advise the officer of what is taking place and give them your location.
- Remain in place until a police officer, Campus Security officer or a campus administrator you know gives the “all clear.”
IMPORTANT: Unfamiliar voices may be the shooter attempting to lure victims from their safe space. Do not respond to any voice commands until you can verify the source to be a police officer, Campus Security officer or a campus administrator known to you.
If an active shooter enters your office or classroom:
- Try to remain calm.
- Call Campus Security and tell them the shooter’s location. If you can’t speak, leave the line open so the security officer can listen to what’s taking place because Campus Security can often determine a location without the caller speaking. a caller speaking.
- If there is absolutely no opportunity to escape or hide and you cannot communicate, it might be possible to negotiate with the shooter; attempting to overpower the shooter with force should be considered a last resort, after all other options have been exhausted.
- If the shooter leaves the area, proceed immediately to a safer place and do not touch anything that was in the vicinity of the shooter.
If you’re taken hostage:
- Be patient. Time is on your side. Avoid drastic action.
- The first 45 minutes are the most dangerous. Be alert and follow instructions.
- Don't speak unless spoken to and then only when necessary.
- Avoid arguments or appearing hostile. Treat the captor with respect. If you can, establish rapport with the captor. It is probable that the captors do not want to hurt anyone. If medications, first aid, or restroom privileges are needed by anyone, say so.
- Try to rest. Avoid speculating. Expect the unexpected.
- Be observant. You may be released or escape. You can help others with your observations.
- Be prepared to speak with law enforcement personnel on the phone.
If the situation arises where you may be able to flee during an active shooter situation:
- Do not attempt to carry anything while fleeing.
- Move quickly, keep your hands visible and follow the instructions of any police officer you may encounter.
- Do not attempt to remove injured people. Instead, leave wounded victims where they are and notify authorities of their location as soon as possible.
IMPORTANT: Before any emergency occurs, become familiar with the buildings you frequent. Make sure you have an escape route and plan ahead for how you could respond.
Do not try to drive off or leave campus until you’ve confirmed that it is safe to do so by police, Campus Security or a campus administrator, for an accountability head count.
What to expect from responding police officers
Police officers responding to an active shooter are trained to proceed immediately to the area in which shots were last heard. Their purpose is to stop the shooting as quickly as possible.
The first responding police officers will normally be in teams of four. They may be dressed in regular patrol uniforms, or they may be wearing external bulletproof vests, helmets and other tactical equipment.
The police officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns or handguns and might be using pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation. Regardless of how they appear, remain calm, do as the police officers tell you and do not be afraid of them. Put down any bags or packages you may be carrying and keep your hands visible at all times. If you know where the shooter is, tell the police officers.
The first police officers to arrive will not stop to aid injured people. Rescue teams composed of other officers and emergency medical personnel will follow behind the first police officers to treat and remove injured people.
Keep in mind that even once you have escaped to a safer location, the entire area is still a crime scene. Police personnel will usually not let anyone leave until the situation is fully under control and all witnesses have been identified and questioned. Until you are released, remain at whatever assembly point authorities designate.