Is relying on the Police to provide Active Shooter Training a good idea?

Active shooter training, drilling, and preparedness are in high demand right now.  Frankly, it should stay that way.  Guns aren’t going away anytime soon and laws just don’t work.  Schools are up against the proverbial wall when it comes to educating kids and also keeping them safe; active shooter training taking a back seat in most cases.  When that happens, school districts often turn to police departments for help in the training department.  Who better to do it?  Not so!

Yes, police agencies have special skills that make them great partners in the fight against active shooters; however, relying on the PD to provide training is wholly inadequate.  Strained budgets, personnel cuts and slow response times all stack up against you.  As a consultant to many cities in California, I have had the luxury of sitting down with police chiefs and officers from all over the State.  Conversations hover around the lack of resources and the overwhelming list of to-dos.  The fact of that matter is that in most circumstances the Police Department just don’t have the resources to provide the level of training school sites need to effectively train their staff on active shooter responses.  Why is that?

Responses to active shooters, much like other emergency responses, are what we call perishable skills.  What is a perishable skill? It is a skill that requires muscle memory, motor skills and lots of practice to maintain it.  This requires the skills to be trained over and over again on a routine basis where the routine is close enough to keep continuity.  Meaning there can be no gap between training and the time the skill perishes.  Essentially the skill never reaches its expiration date.   With once a year training, as most PD’s will be able to provide, allow for the gap, skill expiration and ultimately skill perishing.

There’s a few other reasons the PD should not be your preferred training partner.  Including a lack of consistent trainers with a high level of knowledge about your school sites and policies;   But the single greatest factor is this, their priorities are completely different than yours.

The PD has a tactical and law enforcement mindset.  Which is perfect for their operations but this beyond the scope of educaitonal staff because teachers do not have guns, badges nor immunity when it comes to taking out active shooters.  Educational staff do and should subscribe to a customer service mindset and not a tactical mindset.  This means the focus is on keeping students and staff safe and keeping parent lawsuits to a minimum.










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