Last month, an armed man in Colorado entered a supermarket and began shooting people. He killed a total of 10, including Eric Talley of the Boulder Police Department. Talley is survived by his wife and seven children. Officer Talley is a warrior and a hero and gave his life to protect others. He entered the store to stop the threat!
A mass shooting call should scare the hell out of anyone. Citizens will flee the scene, as they should, in order to survive. But police officers are different. We are trained to run towards the sound of gun fire. We run towards the chaos. I am old enough to remember the fallout from the Columbine school shooting. At the time, the police were trained to surround (contain) active shooters and call in SWAT. We learned that this tactic works well with barricaded subjects, but it does not with active shooters. The longer the police wait, the more that may perish.
We now know that we have to go in right away with active shooters. We have to push down the intense fear and face the evil inside. This is why police officers must train for these events. If it happens, you must have something to fall back on. It is incumbent on police leadership to ensure their officers are prepared mentally and physically, as well as with the equipment needed to address the situation. Training for active shooter incidents can help to inoculate against the stress and confusion one must certainly feel in these situations.
I remember the amount of training my agency received after the Columbine incident. It was an eye opener, but I remember being very grateful for the training because it instilled in me the mindset that I may be tasked with being like Officer Talley – and I felt ready. I also remember that our training personnel tried to make the training as real as possible. We used simuntions, had actors running at us (frightened people) and sounds of fire alarms going off. It was pretty intense, as it was supposed to be.
My point in this article is two-pronged. First, please keep Officer Talley and his family in your thoughts and prayers. He is an absolute HERO. Second, make sure you are thinking about what you would do in an active shooter situation. If you can, make sure your agency is training and preparing. Ensure you have a weapon system where you can engage the shooter at a distance if possible. Make sure you know that weapon system like the back of your hand. Try to set up active shooter training – anything is better than nothing. There are many officers out there who have been trained. Lean on them if you do not have a resource at your agency. I can also connect you with organizations that conduct this type of training. Be prepared and win the fight.
Please be safe out there,