What makes active shooters different?

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active shootersThere is one huge difference when it comes to active shooters.  They are not hostage takers.  Let me say that again.  They are not hostage takers.  They don’t want hostages, they have no plan for hostages and they are prepared to deal with consequences of not having hostages.  What does that mean for your organization?

After Columbine , the world changed a lot, but after Virgina Tech, the world changed even more.  The scenario had changed and the response from law enforcement had to change with it.  They needed a new way to deal with active shooters.  What they realized was that active shooters are similar to hostage takers, but there was a key difference – hostage takers weren’t prepared to die and active shooters were.

Dealing with active shooters on school campuses requires a much different approach than your typical emergency events.   The threat is real and it is now.  Once an active shooter arrives on your campus, you need to immediately active your plan.  There is no time for negotiation or planning. Review the following key differences below:

Key Hostage Traits

  • Intended crime was not murder
  • No intended victim
  • Does not take targets of opportunity
  • Primary goal is to achieve demands
  • Barricaded in one area
  • There is time for planning and negotiation with law enforcement

Key Active Shooter Traits

  • Intended crime is mass murder or mass injury
  • Has intended victims
  • Will injure or harm targets of opportunity while looking for intended victims
  • Not seeking escape
  • Continues to move thru building
  • Primary goal is to accomplish task until stopped by law enforcement or taking own life
  • There is no time for law enforcement to negotiate or plan for the active shooter

School districts would be wise to review their emergency operation plans and ensure that all staff are prepared to respond to active shooter incidents.

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