MU hosts active shooter active threat training session

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COLUMBIA — On the first day of classes for the fall 2016 semester, the University of Missouri held an active shooter/ active threat training. 

Monday's training session was the first of two the MU Division of Operations, MU Police Department and Department of Emergency Management will hold. 

Eric Evans is the emergency management coordinator for MU. He discussed the myths and truths of active shooter incidents.

Evans shared the myth that police will be able to respond immediately when a situation occurs. He said it took police seven and a half minutes to respond to the shooter at Columbine High School in 1999.

He also shared four truths of active shooter/ active threat incidents.

Truth #1: The average number of school shootings is increasingly greatly.

The average number of active shooter incidents in a two year period increased from 4 to 20 between 2000 and 2015.

"This is something that is a great concern all across the United States but especially in institutions of higher education," said Evans.

Truth #2: If active shooters want to, they can get in. Building security measures are easily defeated.

"Most building security measures will stop it, but some wont," Evans said. " The attackers want to come in and they want to take your life. And then they want to die doing it."

He said Mu's campus contains lots of open doors and windows in all buildings.

"Most buildings are not meant to keep people out. We want the doors open, we want people wandering around and enjoying their educational experience," Evans said.

Truth #3: If they are able to, they will hurt you.

"Remember, these people are totally committed. They have made this decision months, maybe days, they have planned this out, they are totally committed to what they are going to do," Evans said.

Truth #4: Casualty rates in active threat incidents are abnormal. 

"It's not normal for deaths to exceed injuries in these situations. But that's what they're there to do, is to kill. So why are these numbers so skewed in this direction?" Evans said.

He said it's because of the skill the shooter has and also because of the target. The only thing people can change, Evans said, is the target.

He said survivability increases greatly if you are able to put distance between yourself and the shooter, make movements and distract the shooter.

In response to these truths about active shooter situations, MU Police Department crime prevention officer Brad Wolf also informed session attendees what they can do in active shooter/ active threat situations. He wanted to debunk the myth that students and faculty can't do anything.

He played a video encouraging people to run, hide and fight in active threat situations.

Wolf added the suggestion anything in your space can be used as a weapon. He recommends you continue fighting once you attack, instead of running. He also warns against allowing people to enter a room once you hide in it. He said the person you let in could be the shooter.

Another tactic Wolf recommends is O.O.D.A. which stands for observe, orient, decide and act. He said this will increase your situational awareness. When working or attending class on a university campus, Wolf said to take different entrances and exits into buildings so you are familiar with its layout if an active threat situation should arise.

In a question and answer portion of the presentation, one audience member asked about the email and text messages MU sends out to warn the university community of an active threat.

Wolf said it takes their system seconds to send out an alert and they don't take it lightly when they send them out.

"It's not meant to create panic," Wolf said. "It's to create situational awareness."

A new update to the MU alert system will now tell people where an incident is occurring or where shots were fired. The previous system did not give out this information.

One MU staff member, Melody Galen, works as the editor for the College of Arts and Sciences. Galen said she has some concerns about the building she works in if there were to be an active shooter situation.

"I'm kind of a sitting duck because our building has two main doors in and out and I'm on the third floor. We have an elevator or a single stairway and I've got one door in my office and one window out," Galen said.

Galen said she attended Monday's training session because she wanted to be prepared with what to do or where to go if someone ever did get into her building.

"I might try to hit the stairwell," Galen said. "I guess I'll have to just try and barricade myself in, but I've got a big window in my door so it's not the best situation."

Despite the training's focus of active threats on a university campus, Wolf shared that over 70% of mass shootings don't occur on a college campus.

The next training session will be held September 12 at 3:30 p.m. in Jesse Auditorium. It is free and open to the public and will cover the same topics as the first training session. 

For information about training classes MUPD hosts about active threat, you can find a link here: