Tomorrow, April 14, there will be a live-action active shooter simulation on campus.
The event is scheduled for around 2 p.m. in Decker Hall. Nine police agencies and two fire departments will be participating in the exercise. They will begin setting up the area early in the afternoon, and roads around campus will be shut down around 1 p.m.
There will be an officer stationed at every door to Decker reminding people of the exercise. Students who do not have any reason to be in Decker during the event should avoid the area, said Officer Rick Garrett, the director of police and security at AU. They can watch from a distance but should not come into the building. Additionally, taking photos of the event is prohibited, as it poses a safety risk for the officers involved.
A police officer will be portraying the suspect. He will be shooting from a blank gun. Garrett said that students, faculty and staff need to be aware that the event will be loud. People portraying victims will be screaming, and responding officers will be yelling as well.
The suspect will not be targeting random victims. Instead, about 15 nursing students will participate as the victims of the attack.
Once the simulation has begun, officers, paramedics and firefighters will respond. Officers will engage with the suspect while paramedics and fire responders begin to stabilize victims.
According to Garrett, there are three potential outcomes to active shooter incidents. The suspect could be taken down by police, commit suicide or surrender to the police. While the rest of the event is staged, the outcome will not be.
“We don’t know what the outcome will be from that,” said Garrett. “A lot of this depends just on the interaction of the officers and the suspect.”
After the suspect has been confronted, a SWAT team will enter the building in order to verify that there are no additional suspects hiding.
Although the event is staged, Garrett said that students should respond in a similar way to a real situation.
“In a real active shooter situation, the thought now is run, hide or fight,” said Garrett. “If somebody can safely escape the area and get away to an area of protection, that’s what they should do. If they are in Decker Hall where it is going to be happening, if they believe they can exit without confronting the shooter, that’s what they should do.”
If students cannot exit the building without confronting the shooter, then they should lock themselves in whatever room they are in at the time. Garrett said that they should turn off the lights, remain quiet and stay where they are until the end of the exercise.
It is important that, for the purposes of this exercise, students do not attempt to fight off the suspect, according to Garrett.
Garrett said the event serves as a way to strengthen interagency interactions and to make agencies more comfortable with the campus in the event of a tragedy.
He also said that the goal is to “prepare the university community for an active shooter event in case it would happen on campus, so they are somewhat prepared and know what to expect, what the police response is, and what they should do to protect themselves.”
Videos of similar simulations from other campuses can be found online through the AUPD website or through searching “run, hide, fight” online