A gunman opened fire and killed 21 people and wounded many others at a McDonald's restaurant in San Ysidro, Calif. July 18, 1984. (Photo AP/Lenny Ignelzi)
Active shooter incidents can happen at any time and anywhere. Are you prepared? Consider the McDonald's active shooter incident
FEATURED IN TACTICS AND WEAPONS
I just got off the phone with Jeff Chudwin, Law Officer columnist and chief of police for the Village of Olympia Fields, Ill. I was asking the impossible: "Chief, give me something relevant, a hook, so we can get all our great active shooter training coverage out there--relate it to what's happened at Ft. Hood."
Not so fast, said Chief Chudwin. There aren't any tips that aren't already out there. Wait and ascertain the facts, then proceed.
He's a wise man.
In the journalism business, as all the false information that was reported in the moments following this tragedy attest, fast is more important than accurate. This is not the case in police work, and active shooter training is especially methodical and precise.
Two weeks ago I got to observe R.K. Miller's active shooter class at Coronado (Calif.) high school. The situations were thought out--both in terms of how an active shooter might behave, based on case studies, and even more so in terms of the first response. These are as Gordon Graham says high-risk/low-frequency events. R.K.'s a gentleman, and his training was top notch. But when an active shooter's involved, even the best reponse possible is a reaction to an event in progress. Many may be dead by the time you get the call.
This all reminded me of a column by Jeff Barker on LawOfficer.com. It's a provacative statement: active shooters are not my problem. He reflects on his relationship with Col. Grossman and the lessons of responding to horrific events. His conclusion: Active shooters must be prevented with a reinvigoration of the moral fabric. Police can't prevent them from doing what they will do; police can respond and hopefully prevent further carnage.
Chief George Navarro of the Bridge City Independent School District sent along some wise words this morning that I'll share: "My first observations: The first responders were civilian police officers. These officers attacked the situation and brought an end to this siege quickly. These tactical decisions were certainly lessons learned from Columbine-type situations where the SOPs for most agencies at that time were to secure perimeter and wait for SWAT teams. That procedure here would have led to many more injuries and/or deaths. It is so important for officers to be trained to enter the situation upon arrival."
He adds: "1. By attacking the fire, it forces him to deal with you and take his attention off the trapped helpless; 2. By attacking the fire, it forces his mind to deal with his own survival; 3. By attacking the fire, all others not in the immediate area, have a safer escape route."
And finally, for a little bit of history on the active shooter phenomenon and its implications for tactics, check out this greatLaw Officerarticle by Dave Spaulding.
Stay safe, and our deepest condolences to the afflicted and their families.