Since the start of 2018, school shootings have been an almost weekly occurrence. Ever since the 1999 Columbine School shooting, first responders around America have been seeing a shift in school shooting policy. From the more methodical but slower tactical response, the new rapid response policy has one main guiding statement: go towards the gunfire.
Why this shift though? It seems reckless for law enforcement to rush in blindly towards a shooter, doesn’t it? The answer, however, lies in statistics. Over the years, studies of the shootings have determined that the average school shooting only lasts about 15 minutes long. In tactics where officers claim ground, checking and clearing each individual room, heavy casualties have already taken place.
While the claiming ground method is still effective during operations against gangs, paramilitaries, and terrorist organizations which usually have an unclear number of hostiles, studies of school shootings show that there is generally only 1 to 2 gunmen, and they rarely conceal their position, instead choosing to focus on attacking their targets.
This means that first responders, even if they’re from different departments and units, all have clear orders that can be executed in unison without having to worry about proper clearing procedures, paths to take, or who is in charge; this homogenous group of first responders can quickly locate and interdict the target in the shortest amount of time possible.
Doing so will help minimize casualties as well as prevent the gunmen from escaping or otherwise eluding arrest as has been the case with earlier shootings where the gunman either escaped, or committed suicide before he could be taken into custody.
With the almost weekly occurrence of school shootings, it is important that all possible first responder teams, as well as civilians are aware of the protocol. Being informed of this rapid response technique will ensure that all first responders are on the same page, and that civilians don’t interfere with the operation.
What are your thoughts on the rapid response technique being adopted? Do you think it’s a smart move, or does it put law enforcement at risk?