POLICE Magazine

MAR 2019

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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20 POLICE MARCH 2019 As USA Today reported in the days fol- lowing the November 2018 mass attack at the Borderline country music bar in ousand Oaks, CA, four of the most deadly shootings in the last 50 years took place in 2018 alone. If you add in the Las Vegas concert shooting and the church shooting at Sutherland Springs, TX in 2017, the past two years have been our deadliest ever for active shooters. After reviewing so many shootings over the years and talking with law en- forcement officers, incident command- ers, and leaders who responded to these events, and hearing the questions, com- ments, and feedback during my train- ing classes, I have come to these 10 con- clusions about the people who may be in the building when the perpetrator's attack commences: 1 They think these perpetrators are invincible or unstoppable because they may be armed with several semi-auto- matic handguns, multiple magazines, and long guns. ey hear so many news stories about these attackers over-arm- ing themselves and wearing tactical gear that they feel overwhelmed, as if the situ- ation was hopeless. I frequently tell them that they can fight back and win, that these attackers are not Navy SEALS or Marine commandos gone rogue; they're just serial losers who want to be winners and think they can become infamous if they kill more people than the previous guy. Fighting back works, I tell them. We can stop these people. And as to their wearing tactical gear, just because I put on a cowboy hat that doesn't make me a real cowboy. 2 Many do not understand that the shooter already knows he only has about five to 10 minutes to kill as many people as possible before the police en- gage with him. ey do not comprehend that the shooter's internal clock starts ticking as soon as he pulls out his weap- on and even before he fires his first shot. You and your highly trained colleagues will be en route and will engage as soon as you get your eyes on the bad guy. 3 ey may believe that you will be able to immediately recognize the shooter based only on his holding a gun. is means they may leave out crucial de- tails about the suspect's description, di- rection, and behaviors, all of which can help your tactical plan and actions. I tell my training audiences to give every de- tail they know to the dispatchers about the attacker, so that he cannot just blend in with the stressed-to-the-max crowd of students or employees and try to get away. 4 Many may think these shooters don't have a predetermined target list. Be- cause these attacks appear random— especially in the eyes of the TV media or their usual experts—the people near the shooter often fail to realize he has already rehearsed this attack for many 7 A lot of people believe that while engaging the shooter and clearing the building you will have the time or the capability to provide them with first- aid. While they may see you as having similar life-saving capabilities as a fire- fighter or paramedic, they don't always realize your primary goal is to stop the shooter first. 8 Many may still think that the sound of gunshots is either firecrackers or a car backfiring. is is the most common thing I have ever heard. While taking the tour at the Dallas Book Depository last summer, I watched a TV video tak- en right after President Kennedy was killed. Several witnesses said, "When we first heard the shots, we thought it was firecrackers." From today to as far back as 55 years ago, there are lots of people who can't tell the difference be- tween gunshots and firecrackers. 9 People will not recognize you as a responding police officer, especially if you're in plainclothes or wearing tac- tical gear. As the San Bernardino Po- lice officers discovered when they first made entry into the shooting scene caused by the husband and wife terror- ists in December 2015, the survivors did not immediately see them as cops, but rather, the attackers returning again to finish the job. I tell my training audi- ences that they will see cops wearing all kinds of different uniforms, including suits and ties, camouflage, or hoodies, and carrying everything from revolvers to semi-autos, to ballistic shields and rifles. 10 Many will not fully or immediately understand the value of post-traumat- ic stress debriefings after the incident is over. ese types of life-changing events will require the long-term pres- ence of trained and empathic trauma counselors. Everyone who witnesses or experiences these mass attacks first- hand is affected and the need for group debriefs and individual trauma therapy work is just a necessity. Steve Albrecht worked for the San Diego Police Department for 15 years. His 21 books include "Contact & Cover," "Patrol Cop," "Albrecht on Guns," and "Tactical Perfection for Street Cops." He can be reached at drsteve@drstevealbrecht.com or on Twitter @DrSteveAlbrecht. ACTIVE SHOOTER RESPONSE FROM THE SURVIVORS' PERSPECTIVES weeks or months in advance and knows exactly who he wants to kill. Common targets include: ex-wife, boss, co-work- ers who bullied him, women who wouldn't date him, students who teased him, teachers who failed him, etc. After targeting these people, it's not unusu- al for the active shooter to try to kill as many people as he can to get the body count high enough to make not just the local or national news, but the interna- tional channels as well. 5 An alarming number of people be- lieve that lying on the floor and pretend- ing to be dead will save them from being killed. Who knows where and when this "play possum and you'll survive" con- cept became popular? I teach the oppo- site, of course: If you cannot Run out of the building safely; then Hide out in the safest room you can find; and if neces- sary, Fight Back. 6 Many may believe the shooter will not fire through a wooden door or tinted glass. While we've never seen an attacker shoot the lock off a door like James Bond, we know they have no qualms about shooting through doors, walls, shades, windows, or glass to hit their targets. While hiding is an option in an active shooter incident, it can be difficult to convince people that they can instead fight back and win. PHOTO: GET T Y IMAGES

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