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BUPD Offers Active-Shooter Training

Program teaches preparation, fast decisions: run, hide, fight

Three action verbs: Run. Hide. Fight.

They might be the key to surviving an active-shooter situation on campus.

Run if you can. Hide if you can’t. Fight if you have to.

With the February 14 mass shooting at a Florida high school dominating headlines and the national political debate, the BU Police Department wants everyone in the BU community to know that officers are offering a 45-minute active-shooter training program for all groups of faculty, staff, and students who request the instruction.

“All they have to do is call,” says Kelly Nee, BUPD chief. “We have officers who are highly trained and certified instructors in this.”

BU community members who would like to take the training should contact the BUPD at 617-353-2110 and ask for Lieutenant Robert Casey. Numerous groups, from fraternities and sororities to School of Law staff members, have already taken the training, designed to help people react quickly and effectively if confronted by an active shooter.

Infographic detailing how one should respond if an active shooter is in their vicinity. Source data from Department of Homeland Security

Source: US Department of Homeland Security

Incidents such as the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that took 17 lives and injured many more, as well as a hoax, or “swatting,” incident at Mugar Memorial Library last year, have increased the demand for active-shooter training.

Linda Skinner, LAW’s facilities manager, has scheduled several active-shooter training sessions for groups of employees, including one last Wednesday. There, about 30 staff from the Admissions and Financial Aid, Career Development, and Student Affairs offices came to a fifth-floor classroom to hear Casey’s advice.

The main thing, Casey said, is to be aware of your surroundings. Whenever you go into a classroom, make sure you know where the exits are and identify a corner where you could hide without being seen from the door.

“It’s all about having a plan and knowing your surroundings and knowing your environment,” he told the group. “How many of you have gone down the stairs in the building where you work? Is there more than one staircase? Do you know where they all are?”

The session starts with a video produced by the Department of Homeland Security and the Houston, Tex., Police Department. It shows a simulated workplace shooting that is mild by the standards of most TV cop shows, but is high on tension. A blank-faced, black-clad man with a backpack walks into the lobby of an office building, pulls out a shotgun, and starts blasting away at random victims. The camera roams the building to follow one group of employees sprinting for an exit, another barricading themselves in an inner office, and a third, denied those options, preparing to fight for their lives.

The runners move quickly to find a path to safety and gather colleagues along the way. They don’t stop until they are clear of the danger zone, only then calling 911 for help. The people who hide lock themselves in a room, turn off lights, silence cell phones, and barricade the door with furniture. And the ones whose only choice is to fight commit to an ambush with a fire extinguisher and other improvised weapons.

Infographic detailing how one should respond when law enforcement arrives to an active shooter situation

Source: US Department of Homeland Security

When the video ended, Casey helped the audience analyze what they saw, pointing out actions that were more effective and less effective. Some things that seem obvious are not. Don’t wait for your boss’ OK to leave, he told the group, and don’t worry about packing up your computer. “Remember what’s important: you, not your stuff,” he said. And if you have to barricade a door or even fight an assailant, don’t worry about scratching that piece of University furniture or damaging something you pick up to use as a weapon—your life is at stake.

“I certainly feel better after going through the training,” said Morgan Chalue (CFA’16), senior program coordinator in the Registrar’s office. “You feel a little more prepared.”

Stephen Morash, BU’s director of emergency management, reminded the group that statistics show that people are more likely to win the lottery than to get caught in an active shooter situation. But if a shooting does happen, he said, it can happen very fast.

“These incidents are not unlike a lot of emergency situations we see, low-frequency but high-impact events,” Morash said. “We don’t think enough about them beforehand, and we really need to plan what we would do when it happens, so we can take decisive action very quickly to protect ourselves and our friends.”

The instructors pointed out that not only are such incidents extremely rare, but BUPD response times on campus is extremely good, generally well under a minute. In the years before Columbine, they said, police procedure involved forming a perimeter and waiting for a SWAT (special weapons and tactics) team to assemble. That has changed.

“Now we’re trained that as soon as we get there, we’re going in” to confront an active shooter and end the threat, says Robert Molloy (MET’91), BUPD deputy chief.

Training for such events is important, says Nee, because most people don’t automatically think about how they would respond to an active shooter.

“It’s the times that we live in,” she says.

7 Comments
Joel Brown, writer, BU Today at Boston University
Joel Brown

Joel Brown can be reached at jbnbpt@bu.edu.

7 Comments on BUPD Offers Active-Shooter Training

  • Andre on 02.28.2018 at 8:32 am

    No, thanks.

  • Bill on 02.28.2018 at 11:41 am

    Employees with class A LTC should be allowed to carry on campus. A fire extinguisher is not going to help.

    • Dan on 02.28.2018 at 6:20 pm

      There’s at least one Boston area police department that (6 years ago anyway) would deny a LTC-A or B to anyone stating they were a student or regular employee at any local university. Of course they didn’t tell you it would be an automatic rejection until after you’d taken the required safety course, gotten three personal references, written the application, passed the background check, and paid the application fee.

    • peter on 02.28.2018 at 6:25 pm

      I agree. Strange that at the Parkland shooting, Law Enforcement failed to immediately engage as they had been trained to do. There is most certainly more to this story than is being reported in most press.

    • Beb on 03.01.2018 at 6:05 pm

      BUPD are already employees that are licenced to carry. You would rather just trust that an average civilian won’t go off the rails? That is the deluded attitude that saturated the country with AR15s carrying freaks.

  • Nicole on 03.03.2018 at 9:00 am

    BU could improve safety a lot by doing some very basic updates to their ridiculously antiquated classroom buildings. In most of the classrooms in CAS, for example, the professor can not even lock the classroom door in case of an active shooter or other emergency. I brought this up when I was a faculty member back in 2007, after the Virginia Tech shootings. Nothing was done. It’s been 11 years. How much are students paying in tuition these days, and how much does it cost to install a lock that the professor can use? These buildings have no security and anyone off the street can just walk in.

  • Jose Artigas on 03.06.2018 at 6:39 pm

    A fire extinguisher actually can help a lot. It can distract the attacker, even temporarily disable him. The upcoming training sessions should confirm the importance of distracting a shooter if the preferred options of Run or Hide aren’t viable. This was made clear when I went thru similar training at another workplace.

    Regardless, as Beb notes, Andre’s choice solution will only add more firearms to an already-volatile mix & increase the chances of a tragedy occurring.

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