Holder Calls for Change in Active Shooter Training

Attorney General Eric Holder told IACP attendees Monday that a different approach needs to be taken.


Attorney General Eric Holder told law enforcement leaders Monday that a different approach needs to be taken as the number of active shooter incidents continues to rise.

In his remarks during the First General Assembly of the 120th Annual International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference, Holder called for new strategies and a more aggressive response.

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"Here in Philadelphia, this week, you're discussing some of the most urgent challenges your members face -- including the critical role that every local police department must play in responding to active shooter situations such as last month's tragic mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard," he said.

Since 2009, the annual average of active shooter incidents during the previous eight years has tripled, and so far in 2013, there have been 12 such situations that officers have responded to. In the last four years, there has been a nearly 150 percent increase in the number of people shot and killed in connection with active shooter incidents.

"In the past, patrol officers commonly trained to 'contain and wait' an active shooting incident until more specially trained and equipped personnel could arrive," he said. "But years of after-action analysis has ushered in a major tactical shift and reinforced the need for an immediate, aggressive response to active shooters."

In order to save lives, Holder said that the first arriving officer will have to be the ones to directly engage with an active shooter in some instances.

"In order to prevent additional casualties, it is often patrol officers -- not necessarily SWAT teams -- who serve as the tip of the spear in responding to these incidents," he said. "That's why all law enforcement officers must have the best equipment and most up-to-date training to confront these situations. We owe these officers nothing less."

Over the last decade, the DOJ has helped train 50,000 front-line officers, more than 7,000 on-scene commanders, and over 3,000 local, state, and federal agency heads on how to respond to active shooters.

Following the mass shooting on Dec. 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 20 children and six adults dead, the DOJ joined with the departments of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, and Education to enhance efforts to stop active shooters.

The FBI's Behavioral Threat Assessment Center works with local law enforcement to assess individuals who susceptible to committing acts of violence. Since 2011, the Center has reported hundreds of successful disruptions -- including an anticipated 150 this year.

Holder said that in such cases, during both the intervention process and when responding to active shooter incidents, local law enforcement officers have saved innocent lives.

"As we move forward with these efforts, I want to assure you that leaders at every level of the Justice Department and the FBI are determined to continue working with the IACP to make sure your members have the tools, training, and guidance they need to respond to active shooter incidents -- and other threats -- whenever and wherever they arise," he said. "We will never stop fighting for the tools and resources you need."

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