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Critical Issues in Policing Series: The Police Response to Active Shooter Incidents

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2014
60 pages
This report describes changes in police departments' practices in responding to mass shootings.
Changes discussed include policies and practices which are focused on reducing the number of victims when an active shooter incident happens by engaging the shooter as quickly as possible and not necessarily waiting for SWAT or other special units to arrive. Additionally, it is recommended that police, fire, and emergency medical services now conduct joint training designed to get medical assistance to gunshot victims as quickly as possible; sometimes this involves allowing EMS workers to enter "warm zones" before it is certain that the shooter or shooters have been apprehended. Police officers can also receive additional first responder training to give life-saving medical care. Also discussed are efforts by police organizations to work with other governmental and private organizations on preventing active shooter incidents through identification of persons who potentially may pose a threat in order to facilitate mental health and other treatment for those who are found in need of intervention. Finally, this report discusses ways in which police can educate community members about what to do if they are confronted with an active shooting situation. This report is part of the "Critical Issues in Policing" series; data were collected from police chiefs and other experts at a 2013 conference held by PERF.