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FPD to public at active intruder awareness training: ‘We can’t be complacent’

FPD to public at active intruder awareness training: ‘We can’t be complacent’


The young couple sat at the table with their 11-month-old son, listening to a presentation that would spook any parent.

Sandy Hook.

Virginia Tech.

The names conjure up images of horror as scenes of the worst mass-killings in U.S. history --- massacres that claimed the lives of victims as young as 6.

Such mass-killings can happen anywhere, Fullerton PD Sgt. Tony Rios said.

“We can’t be complacent,” said Rios, addressing a crowd of more than 75 at the Fullerton Community Center.

“And guess what?” Rios added. “Bad guys have the key to pretty much every door. “It’s called a firearm.”

On April 14th Rios and other FPD officers conducted the agency’s first-ever active intruder awareness training for the public.

Among those in the audience were Fullerton residents Paige Ingham with his wife, Morgan, and their 11-month-old son, Kingston.

Morgan Ingham learned about the free presentation via Facebook and thought it would be valuable for her, her husband and her son to attend.

“This is good,” Morgan Ingham said. “I like to be prepared.”

The 90-minute Active Intruder Awareness Training was an extension of a program the FPD launched in December 2012 in which staff members at all of the city’s middle and high schools have received training in what to do in the event of an active-shooter incident.

“It’s nice to hear that this training is being taught at Fullerton schools,” Morgan Ingham added.

The April 14th presentation was the first of several planned sessions to teach the public about the “Run, Hide, Fight” strategy being promoted by law enforcement nationwide.

In the past, office workers and students --- or anyone, anywhere, in a large group in a confined setting --- were urged to huddle together and hunker down and wait for help to arrive.

And cops who were first to arrive on the scene were trained to secure it and essentially wait until SWAT forces arrived to hunt down the bad guys.

But Columbine, in 1999, and Sandy Hook, in 2012, were game changers, Rios said.

Now, police officers that are first on the scene of a mass-shooting are trained to team up and seek out the shooter or shooters and try to eliminate them as quickly as possible to minimize casualties.

And members of the public now are advised to run, hide and --- as a last resort --- fight.

Time, after all, is of the essence, Rios said.

An FBI study found that 67 percent of recent mass shootings ended before police arrived --- which takes, on average, between two and five minutes.

A lot of damage can be done in those first two to five minutes, noted Rios, who is assigned to the FPD’s Family Crimes Unit and is a member of North County SWAT.

So teachers, other school personnel, officer workers --- basically, anyone where a lot of people are gathered (mass killers seek to inflict the most damage in the shortest amount of time) are being educated in the “Run, Hide, Fight” strategy.

The FPD’s training is based on a program developed by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. Its April 14th presentation is a hybrid of presentations the FPD has made to schools and businesses.

Active-shooting incidents in the U.S. have nearly tripled in recent years, to 16.4 a year between 2007 and 2013, from 6.4 a year between 2000 and 2006, according to the FBI study.

So although 16.4 may seem like a relative small number, Rios reminded the audience that such incidents “can happen anywhere.”

Nearly half of mass shootings, Rios said, happen at businesses.

About a quarter happen at schools.

The “Run, Hide, Fight” strategy is explained in this short video below, produced by Houston First and played for the audience April 14:

(video link here)

Rios, along with FPD colleagues Lt. Mike Chocek, Sgt. Mike Hines, and Sgt. Chris Wren, provided several tips in the event of an active-shooter incident:

--- Schools should have a PA system that all people can access and that all people can hear.

--- Review how to access 911 on your desk phone.

--- Have proper tools/equipment in a classroom or office (stuff that be used to break windows so people can escape)

--- Think about what’s beyond an escape route (you don’t want to get trapped in an area that shooter can access)

--- Is you see something, say something (report unusual or threatening behavior)

--- Yell out “Active Shooter!” if a killer starts firing. It’s clear and direct.

During a Q&A session following the presentation, Bobby Albright, an ROP teacher at La Habra High School and one of the attendees of the April 14th presentation, told the audience he has been involved in four lockdowns in the past decade.

The most recent, Albright said, happened a few weeks ago when five gunmen stormed into a jewelry store in San Diego when Albright was escorting students at a school-related function.

“Every (active-intruder incident) is different,” Albright said. “There is no magic formula (to reacting). Don’t lock into one thing. Be open. Don’t think one thing is going to be the solution.

“Consider all sorts of scenarios, because these incidents are fluid and things change quickly.”

The FPD is committed to conducting its “Run, Hide, Fight” presentation to schools every two years as new employees come aboard.

 “The more people who know about what we’re doing,” Rios told the audience, “the better.”

Added Chocek: “That’s what this is about: Getting you guys prepared.”