NJCOPS ACTIVE SHOOTER RESPONSE ARTICLE MAY 2014
The term ACTIVE SHOOTER is relatively new for law enforcement, but by now we all know what it is and when it happens anywhere in the Country there is 24 hour coverage on either FOX NEWS, CNN or a host of other cable channels. I would point to the shooting at Columbine High School back in 1999 as the starting point that defined how law enforcement would respond in an active shooter situation. With the Columbine Shooting officers did what they were trained to do…they called for the SWAT Team, and the officers and the police department were severely criticized. “How could you set up a perimeter when kids are dying?” became the underlying question.
After Columbine there was a tremendous amount of resources that went to training frontline officers on how to deal with an active shooter scenarios. Some of the training that was received has led to great gains for the frontline officers. Equipment like carbines, long guns, helmets, shields and command post vehicles did not exist for the frontline officer before Columbine. And more training opportunities became available in the form of tactical courses and incident command course after the Columbine Shooting.
The “Diamond Formation” became the most common response for entering into an Active Shooter situation. This formation offers 360 degrees of coverage for officers to move through a building or structure, and provided that if each officer handles his area of responsibility threats could be addressed from every area. There are other formations such as a “T-Formation” and a “Stack Formation” but the Diamond Formation became synonymous with Active Shooter Response.
With Active Shooter Response seconds count as we saw with the School Shooting at Newton back in December 2012. The police responded very quickly and made entrance right away but we still had 26 victims, with 20 of them being little kids.
Active Shooter Response tactics are looking to change in order to save those valuable seconds that can save lives. The “new techniques” require only two officers instead of four and the pace at which the officers are making entry into a facility is much faster. Basically, officers are to move in as fast as they can. Officers must also communicate much more with each, and officers are being asked to perform tactical maneuvers that are once only used by SWAT Teams and high level military units. These new techniques use terms like over watch, leap frogging and bounding.
The new techniques have acronyms, just like everything else in the police environment. One technique is called LASER (Law Enforcement Active Shooter Emergency Response) and the other technique is called IARD, (Immediate Action Rapid Deployment).
These new technique do answer the the questions of manpower for a lot of police departments. Now there is no need to wait for the four man team to arrive. However, these new techniques will require law enforcement officers to be trained at an even a higher level then they right now, and just like any other call that we get…MINDSET is key!