An active shooter incident, where someone with a gun is actively attempting to kill or harm people in a confined area, merits the swift action of law enforcement. Such an event is typically over in less than 15 minutes, which means immediate and effective measures must be taken to prevent deaths.
Instances of active shooters have increased
According to a recent FBI study, the number of active shooter incidents in the U.S. increased steadily since 2000. After 2008, the annual average jumped from five instances to almost 16 per year. Nearly 40 percent of these events took place at businesses, and another 29 percent occurred at schools.
As the rate of incidents rises, so too does the number of injured bystanders. According to NBC News, people shot and killed in these events grew 150 percent over the past four years. Even with an average response time of three minutes, the police could not react fast enough to ensure the safety of all involved.
New training helps capture active shooters
The FBI maintains that the most effective way to control and prevent these events from happening is to have law enforcement and private agencies work together. For many police departments, that means changing tactics. Prior to Columbine in 1999, law enforcement focused on containing a shooter and waiting for a more specialized SWAT team to arrive. Today, officers adopt an aggressive strategy that involves engaging the shooter before attending to victims.
For this technique to be effective, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder claims that law enforcement training needs to be constantly reinforced and updated. As a result, the Justice Department has trained more than 60,000 individuals in crisis response, including front-line officers, local agency heads and on-scene commanders. Thousands more took the DHS active shooter course or participated in one of the department's training workshops.
Proper training is important for the successful completion of any mission, and an important part of this training is practicing quick reactions. Don Montague, the executive director of the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Program, emphasizes the idea that there is no time to think in these fast-paced situations. Having responders who know the training and don't waste time can be the difference between life and death. As these events occur more frequently, first responders need to be trained to react instinctively and without hesitation.
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