Departments across the country have adapted their training regarding response to the Active Shooter scenario. Their training is credible, but is it enough? Take into account that most effective neutralization method to diffuse an engaged Active Shooter is by force. Conceiving that state and local law enforcement shoot their handguns only once a year in an environment that offers stationary or rotating targets, this clearly contradicts all training studies that highlight repetitive training yields desired results. An Active Shooter will probably not be stationary!
Conversations with officers from various departments highlight that the majority of departments training for the Active Shooter are basically the same. First the history of the Active Shooter is highlighted, then practical tactics are conducted and training is concluded with a wash down or debrief of the situation. Very little is discussed on the topics of site assessment, use of security cameras and maximizing duty gear.
For example, during the site assessment, if an Active Shooter has engaged in a school, have departments highlighted the increased disaster that may occur if that shooter enters the chemistry room, the auto shop or even the area where special needs children are taught? One member of a four person entry team, if you are lucky to have that many officers initially on scene for entry, can coordinate with school security and isolate the Active Shooter by utilizing school cameras if equipped to detect individual movement. They can also turn on interior school alarms with the assumption that the school is in lock down mode and an opening of a door will trigger an alarm, thus assist in identifying the location of the Active Shooter while the other team members engage.
In regards to maximizing duty gear, as law enforcement we understand that the Active Shooter incident will require the use of deadly force. Patrol officers typically carry three magazines with them, one in the weapon and two on their duty belt, total rounds in the area of 46: three 15-round magazines with one additional round chambered. An option for additional firepower is to acquire additional magazines from perimeter officers. Perimeter officers have greater options than entry officers if confronted by a threat, such as moving to cover, concealment and quicker backup. Furthermore, the odds favor that an engagement will occur inside the building rather than outside. These techniques are just a few that escalate the level of training and thought process that should be taught. We as a profession can not afford to become stagnate in our training philosophies. Although many departments justify this stagnation of additional training by citing increased financial costs, that is not a plausible justification. Regardless, individual officers, as well as, our community civilian partners alike must continuously challenge to better the departmental provided training and strive for excellence.
In conclusion, annual training of any kind, especially in the arena of the Active Shooter, is insufficient in achieving true proficiency and allows for greater litigation. The mythical training syndrome of annual training is not sufficient for modern law enforcement. Being a law enforcement officer requires the ability to become fluid and dynamic in every incident. Since the only constant in the criminal element is change itself, training is paramount. Critical incident success resolution is not from a program or stagnate training, rather, success is an end result of continued training and professional implementation.