Run, Hide and Fight
Shootings on school campuses or in workplaces are difficult to talk about, and not necessarily a topic you’d expect those of us in a small, rural town to be worrying too much about.
But in today’s world of the 24-hour news cycle, with its instant and overabundant processing of information (and lightning-fast social media), even in small towns, we are often exposed to news about this type of violence.
Possibly the most disturbing element to many of these recent stories is that the horrific events don’t just happen in large cities we can’t relate to. More often than not, they happen in small towns, in places where people say things like, “We could never have imagined something so terrible happening here.”
While I hope our town is forever free of such terrifying violence, I also want to be as prepared as possible for every crisis we can anticipate. School and workplace shootings—what we call “active shooter” situations—do happen and it is important we prepare in every possible way.
Here in Mendocino County, our law enforcement agencies and first responders regularly train together for these types of events. Our courageous personnel are trained to run towards the danger the moment they see it, rather than to wait for specialized backup to arrive.
If civilians are caught in an active shooter situation, the rules are simple: run, hide and fight. If you can run from danger, then run. If you can’t run or if running puts you in harm’s way, then hide: lock and/or barricade the door, close the blinds, and be as quiet as possible while calling 911 to let us know where you are. If you can’t hide, your last option is to fight back.
You’re probably thinking, “Is it reasonable for me to try to fight off an active shooter?” Our response is, YES! Active shooters are intent on harming people. Don’t help them by making it easy for them. Instead, fight, fight, fight.
If running away or hiding is not an option, throw items, yell and scream, work with each other as a team and act as aggressively as possible. I promise that first responders will be running to help you win the fight, so fight, fight, fight until we get there. Commit to winning the battle; your chance of survival is proven to be much greater if you take action.
Another way to increase your chances of survival is to get accurate information, and the best way for law enforcement to share information is through Nixle (an email and smart phone notification service). You can sign up for it on our webpage, where you can also find more information about what to do in an active shooter situation. Go to www.ukiahpolice.com, and click on the Community Support tab.
Nearly all active shooter situations share a few common factors. Attackers think that only through a violent action can the circumstances that torment them come to an end. Attackers most often plan their attacks, and each step is accompanied by behaviors and actions that are somewhat predictable.
It is rare for a person to “snap” out of the blue—to go from a sociable, well-adjusted person to a violent attacker. Usually, over time attackers begin to display anti-social behavior like increased use of alcohol or drugs, depression, withdrawal, suicidal comments, angry outbursts, and paranoia. Mental health professionals can help treat individuals with these symptoms, but can only do so if the people struggling with these symptoms seek help.
This is where all of us come in. Any one of us may be in a position to help prevent a shooting by recognizing these early warning signs and choosing to engage rather than to turn a blind eye. Your courage might be the difference between a tragedy and helping someone in need.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.
By: Chris Dewey – Chief of Police