Commentary: Police say ‘See something, say something’

Far too many times active shooter events have occurred at “soft targets” throughout the United States. Many of these peaceful venues include school campuses, shopping malls, movie theaters, Houses of Worship, nightclubs and other popular locations. Hundreds of innocent lives have been lost to this epidemic. Unarmed citizens may reduce the risk of mass violence by taking fundamental steps. In light of the most recent incident at a mall, the Delaware State Police would like to provide citizens with vital preparation techniques that may increase safety and survivability during a dangerous event.

The most critical step is prevention. Citizens are positioned to observe and detect behaviors that may indicate possible or impending violence. Quickly reporting these behaviors to authorities is essential to allow an opportunity for intervention before threats evolve into violence. For example, in the workplace, security concerns should be reported to organizational leadership, human resources and security staff. Local law enforcement should always be contacted for immediate threats.

The Delaware State Police train in how to respond to an active shooter and violent intruder situations, whether at a school, shopping mall, corporate setting or other venue. This training is facilitated by the FBI and is called Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT).

In 2014, the Delaware State Police partnered with the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the intention of constructing an active shooter response training program for all law enforcement agencies in the state of Delaware. During that time with the FBI and Delaware law enforcement training officials, the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) program through Texas State University was recommended and endorsed by the FBI as the optimal program to pursue in Delaware.

The FBI established training opportunities for Delaware law enforcement trainers and acquired the necessary equipment (ammo, safety gear, handguns, power point) to allow each instructor to go forward and teach the tactics to every law enforcement officer in the state. Instructor training consisted of 40 hours of classroom and scenario work, and the subsequent training delivered to in-service personnel was 16 hours in duration.

In short, the partnership with the FBI was instrumental in model program identification, train the trainer opportunities, assistance instructing, and equipment acquisition.

It was the direction of the Delaware Council on Police Training to mandate this training for all law enforcement in Delaware. The goal of this training was to prepare all federal, state and local agencies for an active shooter event so that similar tactics were utilized. An added mandate was to have the training completed by January of 2017.

As of today, all law enforcement officers in Delaware are trained in the same response and tactics so there is no confusion and/or question on best practices to achieve a safe and effective outcome. It should be noted that this training was conducted with a blend of agencies working in classrooms and on scenarios together — not exclusively with other members of their own agency — in order to reinforce the likelihood of multi-agency response. This training is mandated in all Delaware law enforcement academies as new officers are hired and trained.

The Delaware State Police does work with various entities and community partners in regards to the prevention of and response to a violent intruder or critical event. The safety of our citizens is paramount and we will continue to work with our allied law enforcement agencies to make Delaware safer.

As law enforcement advances, the Delaware State Police leverages innovative technology and continues to deliver quality police services to reduce crime and improve public safety. Our comprehensive website at DSP.Delaware.Gov provides valuable information to the public through programs, initiatives and resources aimed to create various avenues of communication with the communities we serve for a safer Delaware.

Delaware organizations are encouraged to have emergency action plans for staff and customers. Emergency plans should be shared with staff, rehearsed during training drills, assessed annually and updated if necessary.

Additionally, citizens are also encouraged to have individual emergency plans and practice the “Run, Hide, Fight” strategy. During an active shooter event citizens should quickly and safely move away from the violent intruder seeking cover and alternate routes out of a building. When in a safe location, citizens should block access or barricade themselves preventing the violent intruder access. As a last resort, and only when lives are in imminent danger, citizens may attempt to defend themselves and incapacitate the shooter by any means necessary. When police arrive, citizens should raise their hands with their empty palms facing forward while complying with all police instructions. Citizens should never run toward police, make any sudden movements or reach for any items.

While the epidemic of active shooter events continues across America, unarmed citizens can play a vital role in deterring these violent acts and increasing survivability rates should an incident occur. Suspicious activity reporting can be reported to Delaware’s Anti-Terrorism Tip Line by calling 1-800-FORCE-12, e-mailing force12@state.de.us, or contacting local law enforcement agencies. Any emergency should always be immediately reported to 911.

With domestic and international terrorism threatening our homeland, there is a recognized need to gather and disseminate timely information regarding homeland security. To meet the need for communication and exchange of terrorist threat information to the public and Delaware’s critical infrastructure, the Delaware State Police has established a comprehensive and easy to follow web site. The purpose of this web page is to allow citizens to provide tips about suspicious activity that may be related to terrorism and/or homeland security.

If you prefer to remain anonymous, you can call us toll-free on the Anti-Terrorism Tip Line at 1-800-FORCE-12 and speak to a Delaware State Police employee 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The callers will not be required to identify themselves.

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