Active Shooter Situations
An active shooter is a person who appears to be actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area. In most cases active shooters use firearms, and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. These situations are dynamic and evolve rapidly, demanding immediate deployment of law enforcement resources to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to innocent victims. College campuses are not immune to serious or violent crime. This section provides guidance on what to do if you find yourself in an active shooter situation and describes what to expect from responding police officers.
In general, how you respond to an active shooter will be dictated by the specific circumstances of the encounter, bearing in mind there could be more than one shooter involved in the same situation. If you find yourself involved in an active shooter situation, try to remain calm and use the following guidelines to help you plan a strategy for survival:
- If an active shooter is outside your building, you should immediately seek cover in an attempt to conceal yourself and hide from the shooter. Proceed to a room that can be locked, close and lock all the windows and doors, and turn off all the lights; if possible, get everyone down on the floor and ensure that no one is visible from outside the room. One person in the room should call 911 or 607-274-3333, advise the dispatcher of what is taking place, and inform him/her of your location; remain in place until the police give the “all clear.” Unfamiliar voices may be the shooter attempting to lure victims from their safe space; do not respond to any voice commands until you can verify with certainty that they are being issued by a police officer.
- If an active shooter is in the same building you are, you should immediately seek cover in an attempt to conceal yourself and hide from the shooter. Determine if the room you are in can be locked and if so, follow the same procedure described in the previous paragraph. If your room can’t be locked, determine if there is a nearby location that can be reached safely and secured, or if you can safely exit the building.
- If an active shooter enters your office, classroom, or residence, try to remain calm. Call 911 or 607-274-3333 if possible and alert police to the shooter’s location; if you can’t speak, leave the line open, so the dispatcher can listen to what’s taking place. If there is no opportunity for escape or hiding, it might be possible to negotiate with the shooter; attempting to overpower the shooter with force should be considered a very last resort, after all other options have been exhausted. If the shooter leaves the area, proceed immediately to a safer place and do not touch anything that was in the vicinity of the shooter.
- If you decide to flee during an active shooting situation, make sure you have an escape route and plan in mind. Do not attempt to carry anything while fleeing; move quickly, keep your hands visible, and follow the instructions of any police officers you may encounter. Do not attempt to remove injured people; instead, leave wounded victims where they are and notify authorities of their location as soon as possible. Proceed to a safe location and do not leave campus until advised it is safe to do so by police.
What to Expect from Responding Police Officers
Police officers responding to an active shooter are trained to proceed immediately to the area in which shots were last heard; their purpose is to stop the shooting as quickly as possible. The first responding officers will normally be in teams; they may be dressed in regular patrol uniforms, or they may be wearing external bulletproof vests, Kevlar helmets, and other tactical equipment. The officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns, or handguns, and might also be using pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation. Regardless of how they appear, remain calm, do as the officers tell you, and do not be afraid of them. Put down any bags or packages you may be carrying and keep your hands visible at all times; if you know where the shooter is, tell the officers. The first officers to arrive will not stop to aid injured people; rescue teams composed of other officers and emergency medical personnel will follow the first officers into secured areas to treat and remove injured persons. Keep in mind that once you have escaped to a safer location, the entire area is still a crime 8 Office of Public Safety 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.
General Guidelines for Action
- Secure immediate area
- Lock and barricade doors
- Turn off lights
- Close blinds
- Silence cell phones
- Block windows
- Turn off radios and computer monitors
- Keep occupants calm, quiet, and out of sight
- Keep yourself out of sight and take adequate cover/protection (e.g., concrete walls, thick desks, filing cabinets, or other cover may protect you from bullets)
- Place signs in exterior windows to identify the location of injured persons
- Use 607-274-3333 to contact the Ithaca College Office of Public Safety dispatcher from a cell phone. Program this number into your cell phone now!
- Dialing 911 from a campus phone will also connect with the Ithaca College Office of Public Safety.
- Dialing 911 from a cell phone will connect you with the Tompkins County Emergency Dispatch Center. Be sure to give the call taker your exact location.
What to Report
- Your exact location: building name and office/room number
- Number of people at your specific location
- Injuries: number injured, types of injuries
- Assailant(s): location, number of suspects, race/gender, clothing description, physical features, type of weapons (long gun or hand gun), backpack, shooters’ identity if known, separate explosions from gunfire, etc. If doubt exists for the safety of the individuals inside the room, the area should remain secured.