Active shooters still top of mind

Mass shooting incidents can happen just about anywhere. And sadly, they continue to do so—the Washington Navy Yard, Fort Hood, a Jewish Community Center in Kansas...

Consider these statistics: there have been about five active shooter incidents every year between 2000 and 2008, according to the Justice Center. And since 2009 that annual average has roughly tripled. Meanwhile, the FBI’s Behavioral Threat Assessment Center, which supports state, local and campus safety officials, has responded to a nearly 200 percent increase in requests for assistance in the past year.

In response, Attorney General Eric Holder recently urged Congress to amp up funding—to the tune of $15 million—for law enforcement active shooting training. Specifically, the money would go towards tools and programs for both training and on-scene response.

Funding or no funding, active shooter drills are now routine for most police agencies and sheriff’s departments. A quick Google search will reveal multiple trainings happening in any given state, just about every single day. In many cases the media is invited to cover events. And sometimes, students and parents are encouraged to participate in these staged (yet terrifying enough) drills.

Nowadays it’s as much a part of patrol as writing a traffic ticket, and so a number of agencies are looking for newer and more meaningful ways to train. Some options are high-tech, while others are comparatively lower tech, but focus on essential skills like making tough decisions in a split second.

In “The business of active shooter prep” on page 24 South Bend (Ind.) Division Chief Stephen Smith recalls, “We started out with just a few pieces of equipment, but (active shooter) resources have grown exponentially since 2007. Force-on-force scenarios are a vital component of training…so it was easy to justify why we needed that equipment.”

The gear is out there, the training is full-speed ahead and officers are more prepared than ever to confront an active shooter. How many of you are prepared to pen a grant request to receive a piece of this (possibly) substantial pie? What products are you seeking or researching, and how will you look to improve the training you already have in place?

These questions have answers, unlike asking “Where will the next shooter strike?” And by the sounds of it, you all are already determined to continue training diligently and well.