• September 29, 2016

Heights police officer shares tips for handling active-shooter events

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Posted: Friday, September 23, 2016 4:30 am

Active-shooter events, as they are called by officials in the law enforcement business, have become commonplace in society taking the lives of victims who are civilians and those who chose the career of keeping us safe from harm.

Lt. Houston Johnson, a patrol operations commander with the Harker Heights Police Department, was selected as the guest speaker for the Aug. 25 Harker Heights Rotary Club meeting to share information that would assist the public in being better prepared if they suddenly find themselves on the receiving end of a weapon held by a person whose sole purpose is to injure or kill.

Houston, selected as the Exchange Club of Killeen’s Police Officer of the Year, has 23 years of highly decorated experience with HHPD and numerous law enforcement agencies across the state. He introduced a program to the Rotarians available in Harker Heights and other parts of the state known as CRASE (Civilian Response to Active Shooting Events).

“We’ve practiced here locally several times and thanks to the executives of Seton Medical Center who were open to hearing the CRASE presentation and agreed to changes that needed to be made in their organization before we took it to the staff,” Houston said.

HHPD is making this training available to churches, businesses, schools and places where there are large gatherings of people.

Through this two-hour presentation, civilians will walk away better educated about their own protection in these events.

Texas State University in San Marcos sponsors ALERRT, the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center.

It has become recognized among federal, state and local law enforcement across the nation.

“It is one standard curriculum to train those in law enforcement on how to respond to active-shooter events. It doesn’t matter what agency it is or where they’re from, the methods taught are identical,” Houston said.

The Justice Department has adopted ALERRT as the standard for law enforcement response training in the United States.

Houston said that what has been learned through the training is that there are two things that peace officers have no control over in active-shooter events and they both can contribute to the high number of deaths in these situations.

First is target availability. Second is how quickly police arrive at a scene.

“Since Columbine, law enforcement officials at every level have worked on a national scale to decrease our response time from 10 minutes to three. It’s going to be difficult to beat a national average of three minutes in all locations across the country,” Houston said.

ALEERT did a study of several hundred well-documented active shooting events across the country and discovered that in 49 percent of the events, the incidents were over in three minutes or less.

“The concept born through CRASE was to teach the public how not to become targets, survive, and give us as police officers that three minutes we need to arrive on a scene and take control of the event,” Houston said.

CRASE is divided into several sections. One of those is what adds to surviving an event is recognizing it for what it is. Those who made the decision the quickest from denial to deliberation to the fact that they were going to survive had double-digit percentages of increasing their chance of survival in an incident.

In the CRASE curriculum, the acronym ADD is taught … Avoid, Deny and Defend — and that could apply to active shooters, tornadoes, or a fire, Houston said.

Another section has to do with the concept of social proof.

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