Through the use of video clips, statistics and information from the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, Lt. Houston Johnson, commander of the Harker Heights Police Criminal Investigation Division, led a pair of classes on how to deal with an active-shooter event Wednesday.
More than 75 people attended the 2½-hour sessions co-sponsored by the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce and the Harker Heights Police Department.
The (ALERRT) training was created at Texas State University in San Marcos and has been recognized by the Bureau of Justice System within the U.S. Justice System as the training experts concerning active shooters in the U.S.
Johnson said, “If all of us from The Secret Service, DPS to the FBI, and local entities are getting the same training and are all learning the same curriculum about tactics and approach, then we’re on the same page when something bad happens.”
While the shooting at Columbine High School was underway, average response time by law enforcement was 10-12 minutes.
“With better communication and training, response time is now at 3 minutes,” Johnson said.
Johnson began the class by asking participants to physically point to all the exits in the room.
“When you leave today, I want you to make a mental note of where the exits are in whatever building you’re in,” he said.. “Especially check the ones other than the one you used to enter the building.”
Harker Heights Police Chief Mike Gentry has developed his own list of life lessons concerning active shooter events including:
the architecture dictates the tactics;
the obstacle dictates the plan;
the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, unless a person had the opportunity to show change and displayed they’ve grown beyond the past behavior;
you can’t fight and retreat at the same time
you can’t advance (move forward) fighting an issue that’s holding you back
all behavior is purposeful and/or pleasure seeking
in order to negotiate, you must be able to deny them something they want
taking the path of least resistance makes both men and rivers crooked
if it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you.
“We plan and train for fire drills and tornadoes but corporately we have to move in the direction to help children and teachers understand what increases survival in an active-shooting event,” Johnson said.
People need to understand that when something bad is happening, it is better to speed up their own reaction time, realize what is going on around them and make the decision to remove themselves.
“If they do, there is a 90 percent survival rate if just that one thing is followed,” according to Johnson.
The class viewed several actual active shooting videos. One of those was Columbine High School. They were awestruck by the behavior of the shooters.
Sonia Campos of Killeen said, “I have five kids in different schools and I never thought about active shooter drills. I was a little reluctant to come and held back tears during some of the videos. I’m gonna take home a lot from this.”
Bobby Whitson of Salado said, “I will take away from this that awareness is key. In a stressful situation, we respond to how we’ve been trained. Being prepared creates an instant reaction that we might have to use sometime.”
Johnson encouraged the group to prepare, and that means making a plan and scripting what you will do.
“This training is designed to educate as many people as possible,” he said. “If you understand the tactics of survival, you could save the lives of other people.”