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Patrol Response Challenge

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 56 Issue: 6 Dated: June 2008 Pages: 62-68
Candy Buster
Date Published
June 2008
7 pages
This article offers suggestions for ways to reduce the time before officers can engage an active shooter who is targeting individuals at a school or workplace.
Based on 5-year data obtained from 24 school shootings in 18 States and 41 workplace shootings in 12 States, from the time of the shooter's first shot until his incapacitation, 3 to 4 minutes have elapsed, with the shooter having shot a person every 15 seconds. The most impressive response time to an active shooter confirmed by a police agency to date is 5-6 minutes by Omaha (Nebraska) police officers. In the past few years, the most rapid and effective interventions in active shootings have been performed by officers who were already at or near the scene, whether on or off duty. This suggests that training tactics for countering active shooters should focus on school resource officers, patrol officers, and the requirement that off-duty officers carry their weapons with them in their off-duty activities. Although SWAT teams must be trained to respond quickly and appropriately to active-shooter situations, making a rapid response time a high priority means that individual patrol officers must be trained to act as a two-person team or singly in responding to active-shooter scenarios. Tactical and equipment issues that must be addressed are the accessibility of needed weaponry and breaching equipment in a patrol car, officer knowledge of the layout of schools in his/her jurisdiction, and ways to reduce response times for 911 calls received by dispatchers. The latter must be tested via simulations. Other issues that should be addressed are the training of school administrators, teachers, and school resource officers regarding immediate protective actions that can protect potential targets of an active shooter until officers arrive at the scene.