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Defending against an ‘active shooter’

If an active shooter is in your vicinity, protect your own life first.

That is the chief message from an Arizona State Capitol Police press release issued Nov. 12, in the wake of the shooting rampage that left 13 dead and 31 wounded at Fort Hood Army base in Texas The tip-sheet explained what to do when law enforcement arrives and how to recognize behavior that could be a precursor to workplace violence.

“I think employees need to have some type of a plan, plus it is important to augment this list with some type of training,” said State Capitol Police Cmdr. Andrew Staubitz. “Training, having a plan and practicing that plan are really the three keys.”

Staubitz, who offers workplace violence-prevention training to government agencies, said he offered the advice because it is timely.

He is expecting an increase in requests for the training as a result of recent events.

“I’ll probably get a couple of requests because of the things that have been in the news lately,” he said.
His program provides prevention training for workplace violence in general, plus he recently incorporated a video about defending against active shooters called, “When Lightning Strikes.”

After training, Staubitz recommends employees take note of their surroundings and make plans for escape routes and hiding places that are specific to their workplace. “It’s running scenarios and making plans before you have an incident so that you can prepare for an incident if one occurs.”

If a person is confronted by a shooter, they should try to evacuate the vicinity of the shooter if possible, leaving belongings behind. If that is not an option, hiding is the next best option, taking care to also block entry to the hiding spot. Taking direct action against the shooter is only recommended if the other two options are not available, but that decision should be a last resort.

“When the motivation (of the shooter) is to kill as many people as possible, then at that point you have to make a decision as to whether you can try to stop that or not,” said Staubitz. “It’s probably the most drastic move anyone will ever take.”

- Agencies interested in Workplace Violence Prevention Training can contact Cmdr. Andrew Staubitz at (602) 364-0399 or e-mail andrew.staubitz@azdoa.gov.

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