Active shooter response for the individual officer

In the post 9/11 world, we now know if active shooters or terrorists take over a hotel, public event, or school, they probably have no interest in escape


I recall a security briefing at the CIA in the early 1980s in which they were discussing a change in security posture. Traditionally, security was designed with the expectation the bad guy wanted to escape. As those who wish to do us harm became more committed, it became clear that escape wasn’t a part of their plan. Security measures had to be strengthened to stop those who only wished to enter and cause great damage with no intention of leaving.

Unfortunately, horrific events have changed law enforcement strategy. Prior to 9/11, the suggested strategy if on a hijacked plane was to sit it out and wait for the negotiators and tactical teams to respond to the problem. The belief then was the longer the incident lasted, the safer the hostages became. After 9/11, we now know to immediately engage. Similarly, the strategy to an armed situation in a public location was to “contain and wait.” These were sound strategies at the time because they fit the mindset of the criminal at the time. In the post 9/11 world, we now know if active shooters or terrorists take over a hotel, public event, or school, they probably have no interest in money or escape. They don’t want to live. What they want is to obtain publicity, terrorize, and inflict casualties — preferably among the most innocent (our children).

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