Run, hide, fight @BvuePD

As I mentioned in the QOTD this morning last night I attended a presentation entitled Active Shooter Preparation by the Bellevue Washington Police department at the Newport High School.

The presenter was Officer Scott Montgomery who usually is a traffic cop but is also on the SWAT team and is a “certified active shooter instructor”.

It was a relatively small group attending. I was fairly close to the front making it difficult to see everyone and didn’t take a close inventory but I expect it was about 30 people.

At the time the Columbine massacre happened police training was that the police should secure the area and wait for the SWAT team to arrive and possibly enter the building. Of course the shooters had long since run their course by the time SWAT entered the building. This was a wakeup call and police training changed in response.

The training now has long been that the school should go into “lockdown”, people hide wherever they can, and they wait for the police to arrive. Upon the arrival of three or four police officers they would form a team and enter the building to engage the shooter. No active shooter incident has ever been stopped by such a multiple officer team.

At the Marysville Pilchuck High School shooting there were students on the football field when the shooting started in the cafeteria. The school went into “lockdown”. The people on the football field went back into the school toward the shooter because that is what you do in a lockdown situation. They were following their training.

Active shooters evolved their tactics and so both the police and private citizens need to evolve as well. The Virginia Tech shooter took advantage of the lockdown and upped it one. He brought his own lock and chain. He went into a classroom, locked the doors shut, and started shooting them.

He had practiced this. We know this because people at the gun range where he practiced reported, when interviewed after the Virginia Tech event, they he did something very odd when he was at the range. He put his targets on the ground in rows. He then walked down the “aisles” with a gun in each hand and shot the targets as he walked by.

Montgomery told us they train using Simunitions in actual schools that are about to be remodeled or torn down. He stressed that even though they train for active shooter situations in a school they cannot be there in time to prevent horrific outcomes. “You are the first responders.” he said. If you do nothing, that is wrong. Fight, flight, and freeze are very natural responses. If you have children under your care you will probably not leave them. It is against our nature to fight. Almost no one practices fighting. Hence, if you have not thought about the situation you almost for certain will freeze. You just won’t know what to do.

You need to think about these things now, frequently, and prepare yourself mentally to do something other than freeze.

What private citizens need to do is think about all the “What if?” cases and plan for them ahead of time. What will you do? What are your options? How many exits are there in your situation? Don’t just think of the doors. Windows can be broken and dropping from a second story window is probably going to result in fewer injuries than waiting for a bullet to find you as you hide under a desk.

Teachers of younger students are particularly resistant to “losing track of a child”. “What if they get lost out on the street?” He response to this is, paraphrasing, “Which would you rather have, a lost kid on the street with every cop in the state converging on the site or the kid at immediate risk of being shot? We can find the kid on the street in the next hour. We can’t protect them from a bullet in the next minute.”

He told us that in police academy they were taught there are three types of people, “Sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs”. Most people are sheep. The police are clearly the sheepdogs. But you don’t have to have a uniform to protect your flock.

An active shooter is a dynamic event. Things change rapidly and the police cannot tell you what is going to be the best action to take. The people on the scene right then and there have to adapt to the situation and take appropriate action based upon the information available to them:

  • Know your situation
  • Do what is necessary to survive
  • Remember your responsibilities

People need to develop a survival mindset: Awareness and preparation are key:

  • Be familiar with your surroundings and environment BEFORE an emergency occurs.
  • Entry and exit points?
  • Areas where you can hide
  • Objects that can be used as weapons

Make a decision:

  • Run
  • Hide
  • Fight

This is the new mindset people must develop. It is not a static decision. Adapt to the changing situation.

If you have to fight allow yourself to have a “righteous anger”. You can be a “mother bear”. If you attack do it with a full commitment until the threat no longer exists. You may have to take their life.

Your mindset is important. His mindset which he encouraged others to have, “I’m not going to give my life for someone else. Someone else is going to have to take my life.”

DHS produced a video to teach the new mindset:

He was generally okay with it but with some minor issues. The two issues I remember were that it portrays women, but not men, as inclined to freeze. Men freeze too. Women can and will fight. This is particularly true when defending children.

The first police to arrive will be extremely single minded. They will not be friendly. They will not help you. They may yell at you and/or push you aside. Their mission will be to engage the shooter as quickly as they can so the total number of victims can be minimized.

When you encounter the police show your hands. Don’t worry about having a cell phone in it. It is very unlikely they are going to mistake your cell phone for a gun and your cell phone may come in handy later.

They will be doing active shooter response training, similar to fire drills, with the schools. It’s not quite the same thing and the results will never be as good, but keep in mind that in the last 50 years they have been doing fire drills no student has ever died in a school fire. Training works.

Much of the presentation seemed to presume there was a single shooter. I asked something like the following, “I realize Columbine was a somewhat unique event but there were two shooters and they used explosives as an significant component of their attack. Does this change your training?”

Montgomery said 67% of the active shooters in this country have been a single person. But they train for multiple shooters and even well planned team attacks such as a terrorist group might implement. It doesn’t change the mindset of the private citizen much. Events are dynamic and you won’t have perfect information. Yes, you may be running away from a shooter into an ambush but you are running away from a known threat. Be prepared to change your actions based on new information.

Someone else asked about the layout of the school and the risk of all the students exiting into the common area. It is surrounded on three sides by the building with a hill overlooking it (the eastern part of the parking lot). School officer Greg Mills explained they have timed the various paths to exit the buildings and can exit in reasonable times to other areas.

I then pointed out, paraphrasing, “I think was in Arkansas in the late 1990s where two shooters pulled the fire alarm and then waited in the tree line with rifles for when the students came out into the open. A similar attack at Newport might look inviting.”

Mills also addressed this. He said that during fire drills he is not responsible for evacuation of the students. He immediately exits in that direction and looks for “anything out of place”. He said, paraphrasing, “I might be the first one shot, but we are aware of that risk and try to address it.”

I was tempted to ask about private citizens with firearms because strictly speaking the presentation wasn’t just about active shooters in schools. But I decided not to. First off it is illegal for private citizens to have a firearm on school property and this was primarily a presentation for parents and students. Secondly this is a tremendous change in attitude from cowering and waiting for the police. If this new mindset takes hold then private citizens with guns to defend themselves and their children will come naturally. The culture is changing and the law will follow.


38 thoughts on “Run, hide, fight @BvuePD

  1. Every classroom should have two exits to different spaces outside the classroom. The simplest way is to include operable windows which meet fire exit requirements. Fire codes typically do not require multiple exit paths and economics lean toward fixed windows in warmer climates. Oddly, you do not see many fire escapes in modern construction, this should be revisited in sensitive facilities.

    As for private citizens with firearms, there is a way half way there – reserve deputies on the school staff (your jurisdiction may vary) – three or four years ago a school staffer was escorting a student after school practice to a ride waiting in the parking lot when a ne’erdowell became DRT (detroit?). Perhaps, on the down-low, more staffers and joe average parents can become reserve deputies. Again, yor jurisdiction and sheriff may vary.

  2. I believe that there was an active shooter in SLC stopped via the active shooter drill. Don’t know of others but they may exist.

  3. Much of the presentation seemed to presume there was a single shooter. I asked something like the following, “I realize Columbine was a somewhat unique event but there were two shooters and they used explosives as an significant component of their attack. Does this change your training?”

    Montgomery said 67% of the active shooters in this country have been a single person. But they train for multiple shooters and even well planned team attacks such as a terrorist group might implement. It doesn’t change the mindset of the private citizen much. Events are dynamic and you won’t have perfect information. Yes, you may be running away from a shooter into an ambush but you are running away from a known threat. Be prepared to change your actions based on new information.

    Beslan Beslan Beslan. Mumbai Mumbai Mumbai. Westlands Westlands Westlands.

    Good to hear that BPD is at least thinking about the organized, multi-person attack team. The rest of us should be, too.

  4. First….GREAT post!

    Now…. in my county, I attended a briefing by our police and school systems. I was concerned about the security of my daughter’s schools. I found out that my county has been training this for 17 years…and we have actual police in the middle and high schools, with patrolling cops in the elementary schools.

    It isn’t bad.

    That said….they still don’t have a plan to evade or defeat the attacker.

    “Women can and will fight. This is particularly true when defending children.”
    Funny how my daughter’s history teacher has…….in her class room. A framing hammer to be more specific. For….odd jobs… needed….

    In the drills, I don’t understand why the teachers do not pile up the desks in front of the door. Try getting through THAT.

  5. One of the interesting things about licenses to carry in otherwise 2A-hostile jurisdictions like California is that LTC holders are often specifically exempt from the bans on firearms possession on school grounds.

    • True in Oregon, too. Federal law already exempts CCW license holders, so if it’s still illegal, it’s a state law that makes it so. Oregon law, like federal law, specifically exempts Oregon CHL holders (but only Oregon CHL holders; out-of-state visitors without Oregon non-resident CHLs, you’re still out of luck; sorry).

      When I found that out, I wondered why more teachers don’t carry, since it’s not illegal. I found out that for most public school teachers, it’s a condition of employment that they not have “weapons” (which carries a very broad definition). While not illegal, they will be fired by the school board, and the (traditionally far-left-leaning) union will not defend them.

      Idiotic, but without union support, that won’t change, and the union won’t support it.

      • “The unions” is a term pretty much synonymous with the likes of Sol Alinsky or George Soros. Anti American, Marxist radicals. Don’t look to them for anything but underhanded, dirty tricks. They’re proud of it too.

  6. Back in 2012, there was a video created by Houston city “officials”, pretending to show citizens how to deal with an “active shooter” event. It too had the notion “run, hide, fight” in it. Unfortunately, they explicitly decided they did not want to tell people about armed self defense, opting instead for suggesting a fire extinguisher might make a useful makeshift weapon.
    The Wall St. Journal article on the subject ( — I hope it works for non-subscribers) says “they decided not to include a segment advising people who might be armed to use their guns because the video is meant to address the widest possible audience; they said fewer than 3% of Texans have a permit to carry a concealed weapon.” That’s an amazing display of stupidity (or innumeracy). It should have been obvious even to a government bureaucrat that 3% carry means any group of 30 adults has a pretty good chance of having at least one armed citizen in it. In other words, in any “mass shooting” setting, the odds are excellent that someone will be armed. That is, of course, unless that setting is one where law abiding citizens were explicitly disarmed by law or policy. Places like Columbine, or the Aurora cinema, or Ft. Hood.
    It’s good to see someone talk about the value of armed self defense, but so long as defense is treated as something restricted to specialists, we’re nowhere near where we should be.

    • Statistically, at 3%, there’s an approximately 60% chance that out of 30 random people, someone will have a CCW permit (1 – (0.97^30)). It breaks 50% (read: “It’s more likely than not”) at 23 people.

      Now, that’s not to say the CCW permit holder(s) will actually be carrying that day, and there’s some variation based on audience (I’d bet 30 random urban neophytes are still less likely to have a gun among them than even 10 random rural ranch folks). It depends.

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  9. Well I had a nice comment but my tablet crashed and lost. Suffice to say that we very much need our own video. The poignant omission of armed defense in that video was sickening. It’s impossible to take someone seriously when they can’t bring themselves to include the obvious and most efficient means of defense. It is pure, political cowardice. Do they deserve some credit. OK; they deserve some credit, yes, as far as political cowards go.

    Am I being unfair? Some will think so, and THAT, friends, is what gets people killed. Run, hide, fight (fight a shogun murderer with a fire extinguisher) and by all means, forget about the most efficient means of self defense, because if we mention it, some pathetic, pants-wetting political hack will pretend to get offended. Oh dear, dear me! What the goddam hell have we come to?

  10. The video producers can go up against an active shooter, presumably, but they can’t face the possible ire of a radical leftist, anti gun politician? Fucking really? You see what’s happening here?

    • Well, no, the video producers don’t go up against anyone. Their active shooters are just actors.

      • Ok well if no one in the production chain is a first responder/cop/security guard, etc., as in effect your are saying, then it’s even worse. I was assuming that SOMEONE involved in the making of the video was an actual gun fighter, most especially those responsible for the video’s content or lack thereof.

        • It’s possible that there are competent people involved. But, on the evidence, it seems more likely that the controlling authority is in the hands of leftish politicians and their authoritarian partners. It’s possible that some of the people in the action are actually qualified, but as for the people who chose the message, it seems pretty clear that they aren’t. That’s what I meant by “producers” — management, not grunts.

  11. Fantastic report, Joe. Thank you. It’s not at all surprising that they aren’t promoting the notion of the armed private citizen. Yet. However, the RHF philosophy is such a refreshing change from the tired, old mantra of just wait like good little sheep until the police get around to saving your useless butts. It will be interesting to see where things go from here.

  12. The original drill was for the first four responders to charge the shooter individually, and tag him ASAP. The second four responders were supposed to form a fireteam, in case things went poorly.

    Safety-at-any-cost mindsets have made the new response procedure useless.

    • This is absolutely correct. For an example, see what the response is to a man-with-gun call. Think a lone cop is going to respond? No f’ing way! And this is with no shots fired! They gather a group before rolling up to the location. They want a minimum of 8 cops, in my experience. Response time will be AT LEAST 10 minutes, maybe 20.
      You think there are going to be many cops that want to be the first to arrive at an actual shots-fired call? It can be very easy to not get there quickly.

  13. This police officer says that the VA Tech shooter put targets on the ground and practiced that way. How can we get proof that this is true and not just a repeat of a legend? Is this written in an official report?

  14. Do you know if Washington State concealed carry permit holders are exempt from the no guns in school rule?


    • Are there any states where there is such an exception? I though the school zone ban is a federal law. Did I get that mixed up?
      It’s interesting that in NH (at least until recently; I haven’t checked lately) you could carry in the state house.

  15. I do know of one active shooter incident that was stopped by response of multiple police. Not quite the scenario described, but the 2006 Dawson College shooting in Montreal was stopped within a few minutes because two police officers who happened to be there on another call heard the gunshots and responded immediately. On being wounded in the arm by police gunfire, the perpetrator shot himself in the head.

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