In a world with growing crime, especially situations with armed criminals, the O’Fallon Police and Public Safety Department (OPD) has come up with a way to help business professionals and individuals prepare for the worst possible scenario — active shooter events in the workplace.
O’Fallon Police Captain Mark Berry said the department came up with the idea of providing more resources and information about what to do in dangerous situations that may arise in varying settings involving firearms.
An active shooter event is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.
“It’s another opportunity for us to provide the community with resources they may not have access to or may not know where to look for,” Berry said.
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Berry said there was no one incident that prompted the program’s inception.
“The O’Fallon Police have responded to zero active shooter events in the last year, and the last decade,” Berry said. “I’ve been here longer than that even and I don’t believe we’ve ever responded to a report of a gunman or an active shooter event.”
Similarly, there have been four armed robberies in the last year, and 23 in the last decade in O’Fallon, Berry said.
“We are just being proactive and it’s another community outreach program we are looking forward to providing, not just to businesses, but also civic organizations,” Berry said.
After the program starts, Berry said he is optimistic about expanding the reach of the presentations.
“Right now, there are no dates set,” Berry said.
While the schedule for the 2016-2017 year is being planned by OPD staff currently, Berry said there are steps people can take in the mean time to become more aware of ‘red flag’ situations, as well as prepare mentally and physically for the possibility of an active shooter event.
“Three key things to remember are victims are selected at random; event is unpredictable and evolves quickly; and, knowing what to do can save lives,” Berry said.
The presentations will cover such things as, ‘what information to provide 911 operators,’ ‘what to do,’ and ‘what to do when law enforcement arrives.’
Run and hide is the first two pointers given by the OPD in a quick reference guide.
If you plan to run — have an escape plan, and don’t worry about your belongings, just leave them behind the guide advises. If able, try to help others escape, but don’t try to move the wounded.
Always keeping your hands visible is very important, Berry said.
When hiding try to do so in an area away from the shooter’s view, lock door or block entry to your spot, silence your phone and take it off vibrate mode too, then call for help if you can, and try to remain as quiet as possible.
If your able to call 911, time is of the essence, so be sure to share only pertinent information and speak clearly. Tell the operator:
▪ Location of the active shooter;
▪ Number of shooters;
▪ Physical description of shooters;
▪ Number and type of weapons shooter has; and,
▪ Number of potential victims at location.
“Unlike a defined crime, such as a murder or mass killing, the active aspect inherently implies that both law enforcement personnel and citizens have the potential to affect the outcome of the event based upon their responses,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation’s: ‘A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013.’
The third option is to fight, but only as a last resort and only when your life is in imminent danger.
▪ Attempt to incapacitate the shooter.
▪ Act with as much physical aggression as possible.
▪ Improvise weapons and throw items at the active shooter.
▪ Commit to your actions, your life depends on it.
The first officers to arrive on scene will not stop to help the injured, so expect a rescue team to follow the initial officer.
▪ Remain calm and follow instructions.
▪ Again, keep hands visible and raise them.
▪ Avoid quick movements toward officers, such as running towards them or holding on to them for safety.
▪ Avoid pointing, yelling or screaming, and don’t ask questions when evacuating.
Once you’ve reached a safe location, you likely will be held in that area by law enforcement until the situation is under control and all witnesses have been identified and questioned, so don’t leave prematurely.
Of the 160 active shooter incidents identified in the 40 of the 50 states, including the District of Columbia, between 2000 and 2013, an average of 11.4 incidents occurred annually. Seventy percent of the incidents occurred in either a commerce/business or educational environment, and 60 percent of the incidents ended before police arrived. Including the 557 wounded and 486 killed in the 160 incidents, 1,043 victims does not included the shooters.