Physical, mental training assist with active threat encounters

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COLUMBIA- Between 2000 and 2013, the FBI reported 160 active shooter situations across the country. These situations along with other situations that put the lives of others in immediate dangers are also classified as active threat situations.

Many of these incidents, such as Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook, have caused schools and law enforcement to implement drills and training to prepare both faculty and students for these possible life-changing events.

University of Missouri Police Department's Public Information Officer, Captain Brian Weimer, said officers have gone through many hours of training to prepare for the possibility of an active threat on or around the university's campus.

"Breaching techniques and also triage of injured individuals, time on the range, specifically qualifying with different types weapons that may be involved," Weimer said.

In an email from Stephens College Director of Campus Security, Tony Coleman, he said Stephens also prepares for these situations through drills and training.

"With all that has happened throughout the country in the past it is a crucial that we provide this type of information to our campus community so that it might assist them in making decisions about their personal safety should they ever be faced with such an incident," Coleman wrote in the email.

Although law enforcement and campus community go through drills and training to prepare for these situations, University of Missouri Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Wayne Anderson, said being prepared mentally is also of importance.

"You set the program up so that everybody knows what their responsibility is. But it's not just knowing the responsibility, it's have a mental set that you know what to expect," Anderson said.

He said victims could go through post-traumatic stress reactions such as hyperactivity, over responsiveness to noises and sights that may remind them of the situation and nightmares.

Weimer said it is hard to have a uniformed drill across the entire campus to prepare for possible active threat situations. He said one person is different from the next and each building has a different layout.

"You could never go through every single scenario of where you may be at any particular time. What you need to understand is the concepts and adapt them to your location," Weimer said.

To understand these concepts, Weimer said residents can sign up for MUPD's Citizen's Response to Active Threat Training. Training consists of a two-hour class session and two hours of hands-on training. He said this will prepare residents to take action if needed when in these situations.

"It gives citizens, for one, the sense of responsibility that law enforcement's not just gonna magically appear when the situation goes on. So they're going to have to possibly evacuate, get away, barricade themselves into where they can keep the individual out, or if need be, fight for their life," Weimer said.

Following these events, Anderson said both victims and law enforcement also need to go through a debriefing period to help them get an understanding of what really happened following the incident.

"After a critical event like that, where people have been killed, even the police officers really need to have some going over, what were you doing at the time, what need to get a total picture. So people will sit in a group and talk about what's going on, what they did, what they saw other people doing and it's almost as if you need to have it out in the open so that you don't feel guilty about having done something," Anderson said.

Those interested in participating in the next Citizen's Response to Active Threat Training can sign up on MUPD's website.