The University Police Department (UPD) and Residential Risk Management hosted their last active shooter training of the semester at Roth Cafe on Wednesday, Nov. 14.
Forty-three students learned about the “Run, Hide, Fight” method and other tactics they can use if they encounter a gunman.
“I’ve actually looked up this material before, but it’s a refresher of what you should do in this kind of situation,” Andrew Infantino, a senior physics major, said. “The most important thing we went over is to run, to be as efficient as possible in preserving your life and try not to give the shooter any chance of succeeding.”
UPD played a video showing an active shooter simulation, filmed in Yang Hall, with student actors demonstrating each step. The three recommended options before police enforcement arrives are to run, hide or fight.
Before you choose to run, you’ll need to assess the situation and know your escape routes out of the building. Next, leave your belongings behind, prevent others from entering the area and keep your hands visible. In the event that the shooter is on a lower level of the building than you, it is best to hide in a locked and barricaded room until UPD arrives. This lowers the risk of running into the shooter and needing to rely on the last option — to fight.
Take any nearby objects to use as a weapon to protect yourself and attempt to strike as aggressively as possible. This method requires you to take action against the active shooter as a last resort and only when your life is in imminent danger.
Officer Peter Thomson ensured that students understood that “distance is in your favor.” The farther away you are from the active shooter, the higher of a chance you have to survive.
“That’s what this training is about,” Assistant Chief of Police Eric Olsen said. “These events are over very quickly, so every second you can buy yourself, it’s another second that officers are coming to help you.”
The training comes just a week after a 28-year-old gunman in Thousand Oaks, California shot and killed 12 college-aged students in a popular country music bar, before being taken out by a law enforcement officer. This is the 307th mass shooting of the year, according to data from non-profit organization, the Gun Violence Archive.
The officers leading the training used a powerpoint to show how students could react in the initial moments of an active shooter situation to help buy them extra time. They emphasized that the response time of the on-campus police department is only two minutes compared to the Suffolk County Police Department, which is five to 15 minutes.
“If it ever came down to it, I think students should be prepared because, at the end of the day, it’s your life,” junior anthropology major Jhinelle Walker said. “We all have these assumptions from movies that we’re gonna be the hero, and we’re gonna take down the bad guys but fighting or taking them on is more likely to get us killed or put other people in danger.”
Attendees passed around some of the equipment that police officers have for all types of emergencies: kevlar helmet, ballistic external vest and ballistic shield.
“It would be great if other students were to learn about this,” Vamsi Talari, a sophomore computer engineering major, said. “It gave me a sense of safety because I now know they have the best tools that will keep our students safe.”
The training mentioned what to expect when law enforcement arrives at the scene. It is best to remain calm, follow the officer’s instructions, put down any items in your hands, raise your hands, spread your fingers and avoid making quick movements so they do not mistake you for the shooter.
The officers also told students to be aware of their surroundings. For example, knowing where the exits in a room are, where the nearest landline is and where possible hiding spots are can help save lives if an active shooter situation were to happen on campus.
“We’re just trying to teach as many people as possible on campus with this training,” Olsen said. “I think students love the class. They also realize that they have a fully vetted police department on campus with the tools to respond to one of these incidences, and it makes them feel safer.”
Correction, Nov. 16, 6:24 PM: Due to an editing area, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, CA was the 307th of the year according to USA Today. It should have said according to data from the Gun Violence Archive.