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Active Shooter: Considerations After VT

Richard Weinblatt

In the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting, departments across the country are reviewing their approach to active shooter situations. This has been the first major tweaking of the Move to Contact scenario since they were devised after law enforcement’s Columbine High School experience.

After Columbine, most tacticians in the business reassessed the “sit and wait for SWAT” approach and eschewed it in favor of Move to Contact. An aggressive mentality, which called for the first officers on scene to charge ahead in groups of three or four to form an assault team, took hold.

Training took place in all places in the country with folks such as the North Carolina Attorney General’s office spearheading the statewide-standardized tactic.

Virginia Tech brings the first tweaking. The original version of the assault team did not take methods to defeat their entry into the school, hospital, or other people-laden facility into account. At Virginia Tech, Seung-Ho Cho’s chaining of doors aided him in his final tally of 32 dead and 25 injured with delayed entry of his second scene by campus police officers.

Beyond the issues of the mental health tracking and treatment systems and the link to firearms in this country, law enforcement has a responsibility to constantly reevaluate strategies and tactics. As law enforcement administrators, trainers, and officers, the following should be done:

1) Review departmental policies. Policies should cover critical incidents for public and quasi-public facilities in your jurisdiction. Administrators and legal counsel should vet the policies that reflect your local, relevant case law precedents and statutory parameters.

2) Officers, particularly those who are field training officers (FTOs) should be clear on their agency’s use of force continuum or matrix. Swift action is only possible when officers are clear on their authority to act and do not hesitate.

3) Contacts should be made with counseling agencies and other mental health/medical care providers with due regard for the spirit of HIPPA (Health Information Protection and Portability Act) that bounds health care givers with confidentiality restrictions.

4) Having all agencies in your region share similar policies should strengthen the effect of inter-agency pacts and mutual aid agreements. The agencies should also train for active shooter events together to hone their unified response.

5) Role-playing should extend beyond just diamond and other formations of officers charging toward the shooter. Trainers should devise creative impediments to condition officers to develop abilities to confront obstacles and formulate on-the-spot solutions. This is an important one, as it takes detailed planning to develop the right quick solutions mindset in a training scenario.

6) Training should move from static role-playing to dynamic force on force training. The use of Simunitions or air soft type weaponry in the force on force training is paramount to taking it to the next level. Here just North of Orlando, Florida, we use Simunitions extensively in the police academy I run. The hard-core approach helps the aspiring law enforcers understand situations on a multitude of levels that classroom role-playing just can’t touch. We use it in our Patrol and Traffic Stops blocks of instruction and are looking to expand it even further.

7) Departments need to encourage extensive training that encompasses such topics as moving and shooting. Ammunition and range time should be made available at the expense of the agency. This is not an area to skimp on in times of budgetary constraints. The cost not to do so could be much higher.

Virginia Tech’s tragedy should not be in vain. This is an opportunity for departments to examine the above topics and others to push the odds back in favor of the responding law enforcement officers and the public we are all sworn to protect.


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  • Im000112_max50

    inspectorgadget7389

    about 3 years ago

    108 Comments

    Good article, but somewhat unrealistic. I agree that the tactics and training need to change. The old static gun training on non-moving John Dillinger targets is 70 years out of date. However, the ideas about not skimping on training budgets is wishful thinking. The department budget may be determined by department administrators as far as operations go, but the overall budget is controlled by city councils, county boards and state legislators. Take an average sized city. The available money has to be divided up among such essential departments as schools, water, streets, fire and police. Within the police the allotted money has to fund dispatch, jail, patrol, investigations, administration, supply, maintenance and training. Reality has been, for many years, that officers may have to get their own training. Departments may have to get together to run one big specialized tactics school each year. They may have to get creative or look for grants. The economy right now is bad and departments are having to cut staff and material in order to keep providing basic services. I work in a prison, the epitome of making do with very little. Police officers may have to make do with what they have.

  • Me_009_max50

    prolibertate

    over 6 years ago

    542 Comments

    I'm a firearms instr on our department and the upper end encourages the deputies on the road especially, to acquire their own .223, whether an AR type or Ruger. We supply the ammo and qualification...it makes real good sense especially if your having to work in a more rural area than downtown. The SRT has sold off all of the MP-5's in favor of the shorter AR's and good riddence...every officer should be in possession of a long gun!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    iceman99

    almost 7 years ago

    6 Comments

    This is a good article with many valid points. Especially about the use of long guns and completely relying on the standard diamond-formation response.
    We stand to learn alot from the Israelis and Russians since terror attacks and active shooter attacks have been common place in their countries for many years. I have learned that most of their response training does involve responding with multiple, 2-3 officer response teams that attack the threat from multiple directions. I personally do not like the 4-5 officer "quad" or diamond response. I find that if you don't train with it alot, that it is slow, cumbersome, and you are a great big target. Another consideration is that unless you work for a major metro area it may be 10-15 minutes minimum before you can more than 2 officers on scene. Since statistics show us that once the shooting starts that a new victim is shot every minute or less, we need to enter and engage the threat immediately. Also, if an ambush or secondary device disables your primary team, and due to inability to communicate in most buildings you don't know it, then the attackers continue to kill more victims.
    Another thing that the VT tradgedy shows us is that patrol, not just tactical teams, needs to have the means, methods and equipment to perform emergency breaching. This includes mechanical and shotgun breaching.
    As far as dynamic firarms training goes, yes departments should provide more opportunities for avdvanced firearms training on a regfular basis. However the reality is that most departments can't and/or won't. it stinks, especially since the liability of a "bad" shoot is so high, but that is reality. If our departments won't provide it for us, then we need to do as much as we can on our own. Just good luck finding a range that will allow you to move and shoot.
    There are other training tools, like Beamhit, that can greatly enhance your shooting capability and more departments are considering these options since it is mainly a 1-time cost.

  • Dsc06387_max50

    brandonosupd

    almost 7 years ago

    12 Comments

    I agree with LAPDedOShea, it seems that every year less money and time is spent training officers. Also, every agency gets active to make changes when something like Virginia Tech occurs, but after a few months, it seems most agencies go back to the way they were before the incident.

  • Tower_4_max50

    needham

    almost 7 years ago

    192 Comments

    I've got it easy where I work. If they hit the fence we can dispence with the nicey nice. I do agree that ALL patrol officers should be issued rifles. Stay safe.

  • My_lapd_badge_max50

    LAPDLEO

    almost 7 years ago

    1776 Comments

    The bottom line is that Riffles (M4's w/ 16inch parrels) should be issued to ALL Police Officers! And should qualified with MONTHLY. The reason I say 16 inch barrels is that not only can it be used in urban long range target aquisition but can also be effectively used in room clearing, much more so than a full lenth M-16 barrel. Also less money for training now a days and more for bean counting means the public is going to pay with blood down the line. Officers need to be homing the skills that can save lives, not filling out forms that can only be used by the ACLU. Also, the author is right on the money and we MUST move to simunition type training across the board, we do a little on the LAPD, but even the instructors here agree that we should be doing much more. The ploblems are the BEAN-COUNTERS, who have NO business making descisions would rather we hug people to death that are violent crimminals, rather than train to nutralize the threat when the time calls for it. Good article. Again, train, train, train boy and girls! And remember, when the time comes, FRONT SITE PRESSSSSSSSSSS!!! Repeat as many times as needed! Stay Safe!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    marshall

    almost 7 years ago

    34 Comments

    I' m rexe-elvis from nigeriawest africa and i will likt to join in the u.s force and i'm still schooling in the unversity of nigeria nsuku alvan campus werri in imo statein the eastern part of nigeriaa,i'm a student of politca sceince 200level
    BUT I DON'T KNOW IF IN UR POLCY , CAN U SPONSOR A NON IDEGEN TO JOIN THE U S FORCE OVER THERE AND IF U CAN I JUST READY TO GO
    THANK

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    marshall

    almost 7 years ago

    34 Comments

    I' m rexe-elvis from nigeriawest africa and i will likt to join in the u.s force and i'm still schooling in the unversity of nigeria nsuku alvan campus werri in imo statein the eastern part of nigeriaa,i'm a student of politca sceince 200level
    BUT I DON'T KNOW IF IN UR POLCY , CAN U SPONSOR A NON IDEGEN TO JOIN THE U S FORCE OVER THERE AND IF U CAN I JUST READY TO GO
    THANK

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    marshall

    almost 7 years ago

    34 Comments

    I' m rexe-elvis from nigeriawest africa and i will likt to join in the u.s force and i'm still schooling in the unversity of nigeria nsuku alvan campus werri in imo statein the eastern part of nigeriaa,i'm a student of politca sceince 200level
    BUT I DON'T KNOW IF IN UR POLCY , CAN U SPONSOR A NON IDEGEN TO JOIN THE U S FORCE OVER THERE AND IF U CAN I JUST READY TO GO
    THANK

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    marshall

    almost 7 years ago

    34 Comments

    I' m rexe-elvis from nigeriawest africa and i will likt to join in the u.s force and i'm still schooling in the unversity of nigeria nsuku alvan campus werri in imo statein the eastern part of nigeriaa,i'm a student of politca sceince 200level
    BUT I DON'T KNOW IF IN UR POLCY , CAN U SPONSOR A NON IDEGEN TO JOIN THE U S FORCE OVER THERE AND IF U CAN I JUST READY TO GO
    THANK

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    marshall

    almost 7 years ago

    34 Comments

    I' m rexe-elvis from nigeriawest africa and i will likt to join in the u.s force and i'm still schooling in the unversity of nigeria nsuku alvan campus werri in imo statein the eastern part of nigeriaa,i'm a student of politca sceince 200level
    BUT I DON'T KNOW IF IN UR POLCY , CAN U SPONSOR A NON IDEGEN TO JOIN THE U S FORCE OVER THERE AND IF U CAN I JUST READY TO GO
    THANK

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    marshall

    almost 7 years ago

    34 Comments

    I' m rexe-elvis from nigeriawest africa and i will likt to join in the u.s force and i'm still schooling in the unversity of nigeria nsuku alvan campus werri in imo statein the eastern part of nigeriaa,i'm a student of politca sceince 200level
    BUT I DON'T KNOW IF IN UR POLCY , CAN U SPONSOR A NON IDEGEN TO JOIN THE U S FORCE OVER THERE AND IF U CAN I JUST READY TO GO
    THANK

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