- Police Department
- Prevention & Education
- Shooting Threats
Recognizing & Responding to Shooting Threats - Training the Public
Law enforcement officers in uniform en masse must take to the podium and tell the public they can save lives by recognizing a neighbor, friend, fellow student, client, patient, customer, employee, or relative that might have turned a dangerous corner.
We need to train the public in the 5 stages of the active shooter. Nearly every active shooter goes through these five stages.
If a citizen pays attention and calls the police they may very well prevent a tragedy of monumental proportions. The 5 stages are:
During this stage the shooter has daydreams of the shooting. He fantasizes about the news coverage. He idolizes other shooters. He might draw pictures of the event and make web postings.
Would-be active shooters in the fantasy stage will often discuss their desires with friends and foes alike. If news of these fantasies are shared with you, believe them and pass them on to law enforcement. If police can intervene prior to the suspect acting on their fantasy there may never be a head line.
In this stage the suspect is deciding on the "who, what, when, where and how" of his day of infamy. He will put his plans down in writing. He will quite often discuss these plans with others and sometimes seek out an accomplice. He will plan the time and location to insure the most victims, or in some cases to target specific victims.
He will determine the weapons he will need and where he will get them. He will decide how to travel to the target area and how to dress to conceal his weapons without arousing suspicion.
If the police are tipped, during this stage, once again intervention can be made prior to people dying and families crying.
During this stage the suspect may be obtaining gun powder for his improvised explosive devices. He might break into grandfather’s house to steal some weapons and ammunition for the event. He might stock pile or pre-position weapons and explosives for the assault. Active shooters have been known to call friends and tell them not to go to school or work on the scheduled day of the attack in an effort to keep them out of the line of fire.
If one of these friends calls the police about their concerns, this citizen intervention may prevent multiple funerals.
This is a very dangerous stage. The suspect has made his plans and decided to act. He will be walking, driving, or riding toward his intended target, armed with his tools of death.
Contact with the soon-to-be active shooter could come in the form of a traffic stop, a citizen call, or a stop and frisk. A thorough investigation can still lead to an arrest of the suspect before he brings down a multitude of victims in a needless shooting or bombing.
Once the shooter opens fire, immediate action needs to be taken. The active shooter will continue to kill until he runs out of victims or ammunition, or is stopped. This suspect is unique, because he is fully dedicated to going for the “top score,” which is measured in kills.
The sooner an on or off-duty officer, or citizen intervenes with an effective, efficient act of courage, the less casualties there will be. In past incidents, active shooters have been thwarted by police officers, security guards, school teachers, and students. One principal recently died successfully stopping an active shooter in a Wisconsin school. There is a risk in doing something, but the greatest risk lies in doing nothing.
All schools, businesses, and government buildings need to stop banning off-duty and retired police officers from carrying their weapons concealed on premises. Police officers are not the problem they are the solution!
Tell The Public They Can Absolutely Make a Difference
The public needs to be reminded of Sir Robert Peel’s statement, “The police are the public and the public are the police.” This country has forgotten that police officers are merely paid members of the public that perform duties that are incumbent on every citizen.
In the case of every active shooter before one shot is fired they dream, draw, write, discuss, twitter, plan, gather, purchase, steal, construct, case, practice, dress, pack, load, transport, and approach. Quite often these actions, when performed by a future active shooter are disconcerting even without the witness knowing their context. Many lives have been saved, because someone saw something and said something to the police.
The Public Response
Response to the active shooter has been trained to police nation-wide. It is now time to educate the public on the role they can play in preventing an evil person from turning their personal dream into a community’s unforgettable nightmare.
Now is the time to sit your public down and tell them. Trust me, they are ready to listen.
Dan Marcou, "Colo. massacre: Educating the public on the five phases of the active shooter."