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A Date with Destiny - Part I

Lt. Dan Marcou / PATC

Once Upon a Time in America:

Picture yourself attending a lecture in an auditorium of a local College, where you are taking classes to complete your master’s degree. You are an off duty police officer seated in the audience listening to a presentation on community policing by a highly esteemed professor, when suddenly a heavily armed man dressed in black bursts through the door of the auditorium and opens fire with a Remington model 870 12 gauge shotgun.

The auditorium transforms from the picture of decorum to bloody chaos immediately due to this ultimate act of terrorism. The killing is not for a country, it is not for a cause, it is not for Allah, nor even on behalf of a domestic radical group. The killing is for one thing and one thing only, “achieving a top score.”

You are already on the move, before the killer has fired his first shot. The shooter is oblivious to your presence, because he has an entire auditorium full of victims that he has turned into a swirling twirling mass of confusion and he is experiencing tunnel vision. He is in the midst of his twisted ecstasy.

You are on the move, being careful to stay beyond his peripheral vision and you have thankfully chosen to be defiant. Your college has declared its campus a gun free zone and has made the carrying of a firearm to your class an act, which could lead to your expulsion even though you are a full time police officer. You have chosen to follow your department’s policy and disregard the college’s mandate.

You move quickly to a position of advantage and take careful aim with your off-duty Glock. You have been trained in “Responding to an Active Shooter.” You have prepared by training with your off duty weapon. You do not identify yourself. You do not ask him to drop the gun. You take careful aim and fire once. Your bullet enters the suspect’s left ear, expands and severs the brain stem, lodging against the skull on the opposite side of the entrance wound. The killer crumples instantly lifeless before he hits the floor.

There are casualties, but because you know how to save lives as well as end them, you immediately apply pressure to the wounds of the injured and direct aid calmly to your location with your cell phone. No one dies except the shooter, who has now, thanks to you, discovered whether or not there is a hell for people who shoot kill innocents. He has had his question answered. The answer is yes. He has also learned there are no virgins for the murderers of innocents, no exercise hour, no television, no conjugal visits, no cafeteria and no parole.


There are some truths to the fictional account you have just read. Police Officers are more prepared than ever to respond to the ever growing phenomenon of the Active Shooter. Training is available and is being attended by officers all over the country. Legislators have made it easier than ever for highly trained officers, who are on duty and off duty as well as retired to carry concealed weapons and possibly be in a position to do something in the event of an active shooter.

Colleges, which have become targets, have mandated with their own rules and regulations the disarming of those, who could and would protect them if this death and destruction were visited upon them. Some colleges all over the nation have their police and security patrolling “unarmed.” The college administrations write rules and regulations that if followed to the letter would disarm police officers attending classes at their facility.

Trainers are experiencing cases where college police attempt to attend active shooter classes and SWAT classes, but are blocked by deans who over-see college police and security. The college administrators feel that these classes will create an overbearing and heavy handed police force on campus. They do this in the wake of the deaths on campuses at Blacksburg, DeKalb and even the University of Montreal in Canada.

Mental health professionals are routinely failing to properly diagnose the degree of danger in many persons who are mentally ill. Many officers have stories of subjects they put mental holds on who were immediately released by mental health professionals and shortly thereafter went out and killed. The irony is in many of these cases, after the killing, when the subject is about to be tried for their crimes, the same mental health professionals, now enlightened, will diagnose the same subject as too mentally ill to stand trial.

In spite of these obstacles law enforcement continues to prepare for the active shooter. Agencies are now aware that they do not have to wait until the crying and the dying starts to intervene effectively in these cases of the active shooter. Rolling out the yellow crime scene tape is not the only option for law enforcement.

Part: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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