Campus Police Offer Safety Training as Part of Campus-wide Initiative
February 15, 2016
Texas Lutheran University Police Chief Gary Hopper has dedicated his life to protecting and serving his fellow citizens. However, there are certain situations—like the possibility of an active shooter—where law enforcement may not be able to arrive in time. Whether you’re in the mall, a movie theatre, or on a college campus, being mentally prepared and having a plan is crucial.
This semester Chief Hopper will lead an active shooter training course open to the campus community. Unlike police officers, most people don’t have repetitive training in how to deal with this type of situation.
“If we don’t give our students, faculty, and staff an option to learn how to respond, we’re not doing our job,” Chief Hopper said. “Active shooter situations occur rapidly and without warning, so it’s very important to know how you would get out or save yourself. We should never assume it wouldn’t happen to us.”
According to Chief Hopper, there are usually three states of response: denial, deliberation, and the decisive moment.
“What we saw with the San Bernardino shooting, and even during 9/11, was that people thought it was a drill,” Chief Hopper said. “Once they began to realize it was really happening they spent a good amount of time deciding what to do. Lots of people don’t think they have a chance in an active shooter situation. But, if you’ve made a plan and talked about it with your family, students, coworkers, etc., your chances of surviving are much greater.”
Ready Houston—a City of Houston initiative that produces videos, handouts, and training to promote preparedness among residents—recently released their “ Run. Hide. Fight. ®” video. Chief Hopper said this proactive approach to educating the public is the evolution of law enforcement preparedness. That education can reduce chaos and confusion among civilians, making it easier for law enforcement to do their job.
“Your first reaction should be to get out,” Chief Hopper said. “We don’t encourage people to approach the shooter unless it’s a last resort. If you do see them, try to get a good look at their face and get out. If you’re in a situation where you can’t exit and you have to hide, pick a secluded location with doors that have locks. Fighting is always a last resort. If you have to fight, try to distract the shooter and attack as a group if you’re able.”
Chief Hopper recognizes the subject matter might be troublesome for people to think about, but he also knows that it could save lives. Aside from having a plan, he said the most important thing a person can do is trust their instinct and be aware of atypical behavior.
“If you hear a person or a student saying things about hurting themselves or others, say something,” Chief Hopper said. “If you notice a coworker is depressed and making strange comments, voice your concern to the proper authorities. We want to get them help and assess if they’re a threat or dealing with some psychological issues that need to be addressed by a doctor. While we want to help these people, and hopefully prevent certain situations from ever happening, it’s still very important to have a plan in place and that’s why we’re doing this training with the TLU community.”
Safety Tips from Chief Hopper
In light of new campus carry legislation and TLU administrators’ decision to continue its current policy regarding weapons on campus, TLU police officers are leading a campus initiative to make sure everyone feels safe and prepared if a situation occurs.
Here are some of the tips on assessing an active shooter situation and responses from Chief Hoppers adapted workshop.
- Use you escape plan. Get out at the first sign of danger.
- Leave your belongings behind.
- Take others with you if possible.
- Try to prevent others from entering.
- Keep your hands visible.
- Follow any orders from law enforcement.
- Call 911 when it’s safe to do so.
- Find a place to hide where the shooter is less likely to find you.
- Stay out of the shooter’s view.
- Lock the door and barricade with heavy furniture if possible.
- Hide behind heavy objects.
- Remain quiet.
- Dial 911 if possible.
- As a last resort to save your life, you may need to attack the shooter.
- Act as aggressively as possible.
- An attack by a group is more effective than by a single person.
- Improvise weapons.
- Throw things.
- Yell and shout to disorient the shooter.
- Commit to your actions.
When Law Enforcement Arrives
- They will probably enter in teams.
- They won’t usually know what the shooter looks like.
- Understand that the rescue of the wounded will not occur until the scene is secured.
- Expect to be taken to a safe location and held there for identification and debriefing.
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