So come pull the sheet over my eyes
So I can sleep tonight
Despite what I’ve seen today.
I find you guilty of a crime, of sleeping at a time
When you should have been wide awake.
– Audioslave; Wide Awake
Do you remember San Ysidro? (1984: 22 dead 19 more casualties)
Remember “Going Postal” in Edmond? (1986: 15 dead, 6 casualties)
I know you remember Columbine. Did you remember that it happened in 1999?
Now, 30 some years later, we see the same thing, chillingly similar specifics in some cases, with Sandy Hook, and Orlando, and Nice, France….
And how bout our cops? Today we have Dallas and Baton Rouge – do you recall New Orleans? (1973: five officers killed, nine casualties)
I know you remember Lakewood. (2009: four killed)
Yet our public remains uninformed and uneducated, and our patrol officers still woefully under-equipped and under-trained for such situations unless the SWAT team is there. But SWAT is going to be thirty minutes to an hour out in most situations, and all their gear won’t necessarily be there when they arrive. When seconds count, help is an hour away…
All this is on my mind after attending a civilian active shooter response instructor course yesterday. Great course – unlike many law enforcement offerings which struggle to stretch four hours of material into an eight our day, this was the reverse. I have personally been teaching the subject for about two years now, and it is fast becoming one of the most requested services of our Special Operations division.
People want to know what to expect and what to do.
It no longer surprises me, but it does often cross my mind when reminded in trainings like this – these attacks have followed similar patterns now for well over forty years (actually far longer: Bath, Michigan happened in 1927).
Yet just now, in the past few years, has there been any organized effort to address people’s actual safety – from the citizen’s point of view – in the face of an active threat, in public or in our schools?
What we have been doing is the equivalent of telling people to sit in a burning building and wait for the Fire Department to come and put the fire out….
Do we do that? No. We put safety measures in place, like sprinklers, and fire extinguishers – so they just might be able to fight the fire themselves!
And I’m thinking – just a wild guess – that when the discussions around putting fire extinguishers in public buildings, and teaching people how to use them, were happening there was not a lot of hand wringing over the liability that could occur “if we teach them that kind of thing. They aren’t ready to fight fires!“
The horror! Concerns about liability overriding concern about LIVES.
It’s astonishing really. That highly educated, highly experienced, WELL PAID adults are so paralyzed by these thought processes, and that it takes decades to finally come to decisions that should be common sense.
The Price of Politics, and bureaucracy.
Finally we are starting to teach people to work to evade, to fortify against, and to take the fight to people trying to kill them. Run Hide Fight. Avoid Deny Defend…however you say it, its the same thing. Parsing words for branding purposes does not serve our ultimate goal, here.
Maybe soon we will see a larger percentage of our officers much better equipped and trained for the threat that we, and they, will be seeing with greater frequency.
If you think we are ready for that, you are thinking…..wishfully. If you think it isn’t coming….stand by.