The Department of Homeland Security defines an active shooter as an individual who is engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearm(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. Active shooter situations are unpredictable, escalate quickly, and can occur at any location on campus. They are often over within 10 to 15 minutes, which is typically before law enforcement is able to arrive on the scene. Because of this, it is important for individuals (faculty, staff, and students) to adequately prepare to deal with an active shooter situation.
Recognizing Signs of Potential Campus Violence
An active shooter may be a current or former employee or student. Learn to trust your instincts. If you believe that someone is exhibiting signs that they are a potential threat, contact Campus Safety and Security.
Indicators of potentially violent behavior may include one or more of the following: • Increased use of alcohol and/or illegal drugs • Unexplained increase in absenteeism and/or vague physical complaints • Depression/withdrawal • Increased severe mood swings, noticeably unstable or emotional responses • Increased talk of problems at home • Increase in unsolicited comments about violence, firearms, and other dangerous weapons and violent crimes
Because active shooter events can occur at any time or place, it is important to always be aware of your environment. For your personal protection, make a habit of identifying multiple exits in the facility where you work. Use this information to identify potential escape routes in the event that an active shooter situation occurs.
For faculty members and staff:
1. It is important to secure the door to your classroom or office each day. • Lock the door while class is in session • Identify how to stop the door from opening if it cannot be locked (i.e., a stopper) • Identify items that can be used to barricade the door (table, file cabinet, desk, etc.)
2. Make sure your students are prepared • Ensure that they have read and understand the active shooter situation guidelines distributed by the College
3. Eliminate the ability to see into the classroom from the hallway (tape paper over the window, draw shades, etc.)
How to Respond
In the event of an active shooter situation, quickly deciding the most appropriate way to respond is the key. Please keep in mind that, when possible, students should follow the lead of employees or directions given by safety and law enforcement.
If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises as quickly as possible. Be sure to: • Have an escape route and plan in mind • Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow • Leave your belongings behind • Help others escape, if possible • Prevent individuals from entering in an area where the active shooter may be • Keep your hands visible • Do not attempt to move wounded people • Call 911 when you are safe
If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you. Your hiding place should: • Be out of the active shooter’s view • Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction (i.e., an office with a closed and locked door) • Not trap you or restrict your options for movement
To prevent an active shooter from entering your place: • Lock the door • Blockade the door with heavy furniture
If the active shooter is nearby: • Lock the door • Silence your cell phone and/or pager • Turn off any source of noise (i.e., radios, televisions) • Hide behind large items (i.e., cabinets, desks) • Remain quiet
If evacuation and hiding out are not possible: • Remain calm • Dial 911, if possible, to alert police to the active shooter’s location • If you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen
As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter by: • Acting as aggressively as possible against him/her • Throwing items and improvising weapons, such as chairs, books, or fire extinguishers • Working together in numbers to overcome the shooter • Yelling
For emergencies, individuals can dial 888 on any campus phone to reach Campus Safety. If calling from a cell phone or other off-campus phone, dial 914.323.7233 (SAFE). Individuals should also contact 911 if able to do so.
What to Report
Report the following information to Campus Safety or the police: • Your name, exact location (building name and room number), and cell phone number • Exact location of the shooter (building name and room number) • Number of shooters • Physical description of shooters (i.e., race, gender, clothing, physical features, etc.) • Number and type of weapons held by shooters (i.e. handgun, long gun, explosives, etc.) • If known or applicable, number of people injured and type of injuries, or number of potential victims • Shooter’s direction of movement
The first officers to arrive on the scene will not stop to help injured people. It is their job to stop the active shooter as quickly as possible. Police officers will typically arrive to an active shooter situation in teams of four. Officers may wear regular uniforms or tactical equipment; be armed with rifles, shotguns, or handguns; use pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation; shout commands and push individuals to the ground for their safety.
Officers are trained to initially view everyone as a potential threat. It is important that all individuals remain calm and remember the following
• Do not run toward the police or make any sudden movements • Keep your hands up, empty, and visible at all times • Avoid pointing, screaming, and/or yelling • Do not stop to ask police officers for help
Keep in mind that once you have escaped to a safer location, the entire area is still considered a crime scene; police will usually not let anyone leave until the situation is fully under control and all witnesses have been identified and questioned. Until you are released, remain at whatever assembly point authorities designate.