Active Shooter Response

The real question is not the amount of officers that enters this hostile environment, but rather the preparedness of the entry component.


As stated earlier in the article, preparation is the key to success. We know the results of an Active Shooter incident. We know our individual jurisdiction's ability for a timely response to a critical incident. Knowing this we should design training to match our environment. If the next arriving officer is 10 to 15 minutes away, and you are the only officer on scene, waiting may not be the appropriate decision. Regardless, preparation and training are the keys to survival. Officers need to prepare for worst-case scenarios. This preparation should not be burdened only on the department but each officer must take responsibility to enhance their own survivalist skills. This includes firearms proficiency.

Budget cuts are occurring throughout the nation. The majority of state and local law enforcement agencies require weapons qualifications yearly on stationary targets. Those same qualifying officers may be faced with making a single person entry. Officers must use the department standards as the bottom base line of acceptance and take the initiative to better themselves. Equally important as weapons proficiency, is creating the survivalist mindset. Many books by very experienced authors can highlight important steps to bettering oneself and enhance our psychologically preparedness.

Psychological preparedness also includes envisioning oneself in a what if scenario. Officers should take the time, regardless of assignment, to walk the school hallways, making mental notes of cover and concealment alcoves, location of entry and exit points, stairwells and security cameras, and equally important, location of staff and special needs children. However if we, as the law enforcement professional, do not take the initiative to educate ourselves then we will lack preparedness and cling to either the DENIAL that it will never happen in our jurisdiction, or bluff ourselves in believing that we are steadfast and combat ready.

Benefits and consequences exist for both single and multiple person entry teams. A single person entry can respond rapidly to eliminate the threat, subsequently saving lives. However, the consequence is that the person has limited firepower, has to cover more fields of fire, and is lacking the physical and psychological support of another officer. Benefits of multiple officer entry include superior firepower, dedicated areas of responsibility to detect oncoming threat, and increased psychological support. Consequently, the ability for cross fire exists. Another factual occurrence that I have seen repeatedly in training scenarios where we only have artificial stressors is officers lagging or hesitating, which often compromises team movements. But perhaps the most arguable consequence is delayed arrival of additional officers and formulation of an entry plan. These are just a few facts to consider when making the decision for entry teams.

So the question to one person, three person, or five person entry may be scenario driven; however, this is irrelevant. The real question is not the amount of officers that enters this hostile environment, but rather the preparedness of the entry component. There will be a time when the first arriving officer will have to take a long look at the person in the mirror and ask themselves did I prepare?



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