Honing rapid response – The Daily Reflector



Thursday, July 11, 2013

Investigators have yet to explain what they believe motivated a young man to fire indiscriminately at innocent people in two Greenville parking lots last month. Yet the incident showed the community that the carnage could have been horrific were it not for the swift and professional response of local law enforcement, which successfully immobilized the gunman.

Expect that memory to be fresh today when East Carolina University conducts a live-shooter exercise on campus to test the rapid response capacity of the school’s police force. Though officers cannot be entirely prepared for such a nightmare unfolding, either at East Carolina or elsewhere in the community, training events like this help to hone skills that can save lives, as was demonstrated last month.

Managing occasional violent incidents was a concern of every campus administration before the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech made emergency preparedness a top priority. On a blustery April morning, a senior English major turned the idyllic campus in southwest Virginia into his personal horror show, shooting 49 students and instructors, killing 32 of them.

Almost immediately, schools like East Carolina conducted rigorous self assessments, determining if the campus community — administration, faculty, staff, students and law enforcement — was equipped to respond to such an event. Issues like communication networks and classroom protocol would need to be refined. New equipment would be needed to assure rapid response and system integration.

Most importantly, it was critical that campus law enforcement be trained to handle the possibility of a live shooter. Both Virginia Tech and, years earlier, the tragedy at Columbine High School demonstrated not only the value of a quick reaction, but the deadly cost of sluggishness. Through drills — like the one at East Carolina today — officers can practice the tactics that protect civilian safety and neutralize the threat.

It is the scenario Greenville saw played out on its streets, with the efficient response of the city’s police force preventing additional bloodshed. In that case, officers isolated the shooter and used their weapons to bring him down, taking him into custody alive.

Even as the community will forever hope that the techniques being utilized today on campus will never be needed, it is a valuable exercise for the school to undertake. Any additional steps that can assure a rapid, professional response in the case of such a threat should allow all involved with East Carolina to breathe a little easier.

via The Daily Reflector.