Active Shooter incidents are affecting our communities in an unprecedented level. Proactive training for law enforcement in this arena is at a historic high. Unfortunately, the majority of training, as seen by this author, is geared for diffusing the Active School Shooter. This is an extraordinary credit to our law enforcement agencies throughout the country for taking a unified training approach, regardless of minor training differences. Although, law enforcement has created training tactics for Active Schools Shooter incidents, very few departments have altered this training for such incidents. Active Shooter incidents, as highlighted by the media, can and have occurred in shopping-malls, business offices, and even churches.
It is a continuing challenge for law enforcement to have omnipresence in order to prevent these types of events from occurring. Therefore, the reality of the perception that law enforcement will be the immediate saviors is hopeful idealism.
Police officers understand, regardless what they desire, that they cannot be everywhere all the time to prevent a crime. Strategies have to be utilized to deter crime. Community education is one of the most successful tactics in deterring crime. Police officers conduct burglar prevention analysis on businesses and residences to prevent crimes. They advise citizens on what to do if confronted by an assailant who wants to steal their car or purse.
Education seems to be a crucial element in deterring criminal opportunity. This is goes hand in hand with the Community Policing model. One thing that I have noticed in my experiences, both law enforcement and consulting, is how many people are at a total loss if you ask them the simple question of what would you do if an Active Shooter came into your work place? Better yet, what would you do if you were at the shopping mall with your family and a like incident occurred?
The expressions on these individuals' faces are that of terror, confusion and DENIAL; they have a hard time believing that it will ever happen to them. ChangingMinds.org characterizes DENIAL in their discussion as a form of repression where stressful thoughts are banned from memory. If I do not think about it, then I do not suffer the associated stress of having to deal with it. Repression and Denial are two primary defense mechanisms which everybody uses. Children find denial easier because, as we age, the ego matures and understands more about the objective reality it must operate within. This may be why the most common response from individuals who, like children, may have not been exposed to critical incidents is
I guess I would hide until help (Police) arrived.
I then ask them who the first responder is in an event like this and their answer - again - the Police. However, when I followed that question up with
You are expecting the police to respond and save your children in a shopping mall incident, when law enforcement's response, on average, is approximately five minutes?
Their response drastically changes to NO.
The average citizen realizes that they are responsible for their own fate; they in turn are the first responders. America's communities have been awakened after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Since then, arguably, 27 terrorist attacks have been stopped by law enforcement personnel; four of which occurred this past month September, 2009. This does not account for the escalating School Shootings. We, as law enforcement, understand that 4th and perhaps 5th Generation Warfare is manifesting itself in our country at an alarming rate; have we, as a society, adequately responded to overcome this threat?